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A grassroots public education model that fielded a cadre of health mentors from two California counties significantly boosted Latino residents’ knowledge of everything from cholesterol and diabetes to the importance of nutrition and exercise, according to a study organized by the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI).

The SC CTSI collaborated on the study with the Keck School of Medicine of USC and Visión y Compromiso, an advocacy organization devoted to improving knowledge and access to health care for California’s native-born and immigrant Latino communities. Visión y Compromiso is also one of California’s leading proponents of the “promotor” model of community health education.

Promotoras are community members who act as health-oriented helpers and liaisons to their neighbors and communities. They are trained to provide culturally and linguistically relevant health information and help to people within their communities. As members of the community themselves, promotoras are able to leverage personal contacts, trust and respect to address sensitive topics, counter misinformation and advocate for quality care, according to advocates.

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