More than 20 years ago, Anna María Nápoles, Ph.D., M.P.H., was working in the San Francisco area on a program to promote breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening in Hispanic/Latino communities. The program helped Hispanics/Latinos get cancer screenings, but Dr. Nápoles realized that there was little to support people after they were diagnosed with cancer, through treatment, and beyond. Through her work, she found that Latinas with breast cancer are less likely to survive than White women with breast cancer and suffer more depression, emotional distress, anxiety, and pain after surgery.1
Dr. Nápoles partnered with a local organization, Círculo de Vida, that supports low-income Latinos living with cancer and their families. Programs to help women with breast cancer already existed but had not yet been adapted for and tested among Spanish-speaking women like those Círculo de Vida served. Working with the organization’s staff, Dr. Nápoles identified needs that were unique to Latinas with breast cancer and came up with effective ways to deliver support to these women.
The team created Nuevo Amanecer (“a new dawn”), a stress management program for low-income Spanish-speaking Latinas with breast cancer. The program was delivered in eight weekly sessions by compañeras, Spanish-speaking Latina breast cancer survivors trained to deliver cancer treatment support. The compañeras visited patients’ homes and taught patients skills to manage thoughts and mood, reduce stress, and communicate with healthcare professionals. The women who participated in the program saw significant improvements in physical health, emotional health, and overall quality of life. Now, as the scientific director of National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)’s Division of Intramural Research, Dr. Nápoles is working on ways to bring change and support for other people who, like those low-income Latinas, experience health disparities.
“Working with communities is where we can have the greatest impact,” Dr. Nápoles says, “at least initially, until we have proven models we can disseminate on a broader scale.”
Over the years, researchers have developed many programs to help people improve their health. But these programs often need tailoring to fit particular groups and settings. Dr. Nápoles’ experience with Nuevo Amanecer inspired her to help other people bring health programs to communities with fewer resources. She created an innovative method to do this, which she calls the transcreation framework.
Read more at National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities.