REDUCING INFORMATION INEQUALITY: A PARTICIPATORY INTERVENTION IN A RURAL, DIVERSE COMMUNITY
Background: CDC-funded Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) is a collaborative of over 40 community organizations working together to create a culture of health in Merced County. Underlying the policies, systems, and environmental approach that guided PICH projects is a comprehensive communication plan. As part of that plan, formative evaluation conducted at the start of the project found that residents and community organizations identified a weak information infrastructure as a major barrier to health: Residents struggle to find timely, relevant information that can help them improve their health, while stakeholders face challenges knowing how to reach diverse audiences with critical health-related information.
Aim: In this manuscript, I describe the process of conducting a participatory health communication intervention designed to address issues identified in communication infrastructure. The process includes adaptation of this method and intervention, developed in urban Los Angeles, to the rural context of Merced County.
Methods: Participatory health communication asset mapping (PHCAM), a method and intervention, was used to identify structures (safe, trusted spaces that serve distinct health communication needs: Informational, conversational, connection).
Development: A six-step process in which community leaders/residents identify & validate communication structures.
Implementation: Successful implementation of the map will be indicated from its use by (1) organizations (to disseminate information) and (2) residents (to obtain information). For the first, potential uses of the map were demonstrated at a convening with all partners, followed by one-on-one training and toolkit dissemination. To promote community knowledge/use, multiple resident convenings will be held at sites on the map.
Key words: rural intervention, participatory, communication infrastructure, information inequality, disparities