Health Literacy, Health Communications, Health Education
Community-Based Participatory Research in Prince George’s County Health Enterprise Zone (HEZ): Creation of Health Literacy Resource Guide Mobile App
(School of Public Health (UMD) Behavioral & Community Health Doctoral Student)
Public Health Significance: Health literacy is defined as the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions. Prince George’s County Health Department is addressing the health literacy needs of residents in the low-income medically underserved area of Capitol Heights, MD, through a Health Enterprise Zone (HEZ) grant to develop a health literacy campaign to improve the overall health outcomes of the residents living in zip code area 20743. As part of its health literacy campaign, we have created a Steering Committee of residents, church leaders, health department representatives, and other stakeholders to help inform our work. Objectives & Approach: The theoretical background for the HEZ and campaign is based in Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR). CBPR is a partnership approach that involves community members and researchers working together in the research process in which all partners contribute expertise and share decision-making. This approach allows community needs driven research implementation. Using CBPR approach, the health literacy campaign was guided by the SC whom created the idea for a health literacy resource guide formatted for a mobile application. This paper details resident participation in developing and pilot testing the app. Research was conducted for production opportunities and costs. Residents planned out the procedures, content and timeframe for a prototype: the app includes glossary, locations and contacts for the health centers, health department, and social services. Back-end coding for a web-based mobile app was created and fitted for both iOS and Android smartphones. Findings: Pilot testing occurred in Fall 2016 through pre/post survey implementation and focus group to assess the feasibility, usability, and preferences from app users. Results from the pilot showed that majority of users increased “confidence” and “comfort” to speak to their doctors about their health. Participants “strongly agreed” that the mobile app was easy to use and increased awareness of local health care resources. Lessons learned of CBPR approach can guide other communities who are considering CBPR in mobile health and health literacy, in order to ensure the right to health for all residents.