Becoming a Promotora: A Transformative Process for Female Community Health Workers

Allison Squires, Matthew J. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing from role theory, this study sought to explore the effects of assuming a new role on Latina community health workers (CHW) participating in a cervical cancer prevention program in a new Latino immigrant community located on the East Coast of the United States. Through a series of in-depth, Spanish language interviews with the 4 participants, the researchers explored the process and effects of assuming and enacting the CHW role through a narrative analysis approach. Themes that emerged from the analysis included "Reasons for becoming a promotora," "Vision and reality of the role," "Structuring interactions: The hierarchy of knowledge transmission," and "Transforming identities." Findings showed that assuming the CHW role had transformative effects on the participants that, in the end, allowed them to reconcile disparate aspects of their own immigrant identities. The findings have multiple implications for designing prevention programs employing CHWs and immigrant community strengthening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-473
Number of pages17
JournalHispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • community health workers
  • health promotion
  • narrative analysis
  • prevention programs
  • promotoras
  • qualitative research
  • roles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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