September 2011 VOL 2, NO 5

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Esta en Sus Manos! It’s in Your Hands!

Lenore McGonigle, MEd 

Background: In the United States, health disparities exist in mammography rates for Latinas compared with other ethnic groups. In addition, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed and the leading cause of cancer deaths among Latina women.1 In 2008, upon examination of rates in our community, the city of Allentown, we learned that 40% of eligible Latina women had not had a mammogram in the past 12 months.

Methods: Through our breast health outreach program, Esta en Sus Manos! It’s in Your Hands!, Lehigh Valley Hospital has had the opportunity to address this disparity by reaching deep into our community to ensure that women receive breast health education and linkage to breast health services, regardless of their ability to pay. Our efforts have been supported by funding from the Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund, Susan G. Komen for the Cure—Philadelphia, and the National Community Cancer Centers Program. With this funding we have been able to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate breast health outreach and education to more than 3000 women in our community, resulting in 1537 women receiving a mammogram since implementation of the program in 2009. Effective strategies for this evidence-based program include using the Promotora/Community Health Worker model, providing presentations at key community hubs, working in concert with community partners, that is, trusted community entities, offering nontraditional hours of service to increase accessibility, telephone appointment reminders, and educating and empowering women in the community to serve as breast health advocates. Seamless transition to a breast health services nurse navigator when a woman has an abnormal mammogram further supports our program.

Results: Our Promotoras are embraced by the women in our community and have touched them in ways beyond breast health outreach. They serve as so much more than educators and recruiters and are viewed as a reliable resource for health and social services information. It should be noted that in addition to breast health outreach, it is our overarching goal to link women without a primary care provider to a medical home in our community. With persistence, compassion, and guidance through the barriers to care, our Promotoras have gained trust and, ultimately, have had a positive influence on the health status of our community.

Conclusions: This poster will highlight the role of the Promotora/Community Health Worker, strategies for accessing the targeted population, successes, challenges, and lessons learned.


  1. Corcoran J, Dattalo P, Crowley M. Interventions to increase mammography rates among U.S. Latinas: a systematic review. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010;19:1281-1288.

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