Abuelas en Accion

Andiara Schwingel

The "Abuelas en Accion/ Grandmothers in Action" (AEA) program explored the feasibility of implementing a behavioral change program addressing physical activity, nutrition and stress management for Latina grandmothers aged 50 and older. The intervention was designed to be culturally sensitive to the targeted population through a partnership with faith-based organizations in developing and delivering an evidence-based behavioral change curriculum that incorporates both intergenerational activities and religious content. Key issues related to efficacy, adoption, implementation and maintenance of the program in Latino communities at the individual (study participants) and organizational (provider organization) levels were evaluated.

This study explored the links between religious inclination, intergenerational programming and health behavior. Religious inclination was assessed in two ways (1) Religious Context - partnering with religious organizations and church staff to endorse and teach an otherwise secular curriculum on church property, and (2) Religious Content - i.e. the inclusion of religious elements and discussions into an existing behavioral change curriculum.

Based on our previous study and the literature in the field we believe that the proposed project will generate new knowledge and insight by increasing our understanding about two important cultural elements of older Latina's lives (intergenerational opportunities and religiosity). This knowledge assists Latino communities to develop, implement, evaluate, and sustain culturally competent behavioral change interventions that promote health and wellbeing. We are testing a classroom-based behavioral change program that is delivered by lay leaders who are already working in the community. This has the dual advantage of utilizing individuals who are familiar with local customs and traditions, while also being a sustainable delivery model that requires no new personnel to be hired to deliver the intervention. We believe this type of low cost, sustainable, culturally-tailored intervention has the maximum likelihood of facilitating long-term behavior change in the study participants, and strengthens the commitment of religious organizations to offer health promotion programs to the communities they serve.