Lessons Learned from the Protección En Construcción (PenC) Community Research Partnership

By Martinez, Linda Sprague; Ndulue, Uchenna J. et al. | International Public Health Journal, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Lessons Learned from the Protección En Construcción (PenC) Community Research Partnership


Martinez, Linda Sprague, Ndulue, Uchenna J., Brunette, Maria J., International Public Health Journal


Introduction

The contributions of community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches to the development of sustainable public health interventions aimed at tackling health disparities have been well documented (1,2). Essential to the CBPR process is collaboration between multiple stakeholders. However, the diverse interests and perspectives represented by CBPR collaborations require an intentional and continual attention to the partnership process. Evaluation of the various dimensions of collaboration, including communication, trust, and capacity building, are central to effective CBPR interventions.

CBPR strategies may be of particular utility in promoting occupational health and safety. Since CBPR partnerships require the participation of multiple sectors of community life including industry, labor, and government, CBPR interventions are uniquely positioned to address occupational morbidity and mortality. Additionally, as over a quarter of all construction workers in the United States (US) are of Latino heritage, effective CBPR interventions may reduce health disparities among Latino Americans in the construction trades (3). Appropriately designed CBPR partnerships can integrate Latino-Americans and Latino immigrants into the design and implementation of effective health promotion interventions. However, few CBPR studies have examined the development processes of partnerships focused on promoting worker health and safety among the Latino population (4).

The purpose of this study is to present a partnership evaluation of Protección en Construcción: The Lawrence Latino Safety Partnership (PenC), a CBPR project focused on promoting Latino construction worker health and safety. This external evaluation set out to 1) explore the ways in which employing a CBPR approach has contributed to participation, capacity building and empowerment among a multi-ethnic/multilingual group of partners (5) and 2) identify relationships between group dynamics and preliminary project outcomes (6).

Background

Latinos are disproportionately impacted by occupational health disparities and experience more hazardous working conditions than their non-Hispanic peers; the fatality rate for Latinos is approximately 20% higher than that of Caucasians or AfricanAmericans (3,7). Particularly in the building trades, Latinos are concentrated in high risk job categories such as laborers, helpers, roofers, and, concrete workers; all positions where workers are likely to be exposed to hazards.

Occupational health and safety concerns among Latinos are a priority for the city of Lawrence, MA due to the large proportion of Latinos residents in the construction trades (8,9). In an attempt to tackle occupational health disparities among Latino construction workers in Lawrence, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Department of Work Environment in partnership with the City of Lawrence Mayor's Health Task Force, the Laborers International Union of North America Local 175 and a team of community residents under the direction of John Snow Inc. formed Protección en Construcción (PenC): The Lawrence Latino Safety Partnership in 2006. Funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the group set out to build a community-university-labor partnership to design, implement and evaluate strategies to reduce falls and silica dust exposure among Latino construction workers in the City of Lawrence Massachusetts.

In keeping with a CBPR approach, PenC uses a committee structure that allows members from partner organizations to be integrated and take leadership roles in various aspects of the research planning, implementation, and dissemination processes. The work of PenC is guided by a steering committee or management team with representation from each of the four partner organizations. Additional teams include: 1) outreach (which focuses on local marketing); 2) dissemination; and 3) intervention planning, each with mixed representation. …

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