Camarena Health’s Promotores de Salud have partnered with the Nicotine & Cannabis Policy Center (NCPC) at University of California Merced to conduct important community research. Acting as official university affiliates, the Promotores will collect data from San Joaquin Valley residents regarding marijuana and tobacco use during and after pregnancy.
“The Promotores attend a lot of health fairs and other events where we perform community outreach,” said Promotores de Salud member Alejandra Pulido. “What we’re trying to do as part of this NCPC project is find out how much our community is aware of the dangers of using nicotine and marijuana while pregnant. We are trying to get a general idea of how much we still need to educate our community.”
“This research is about evaluating our community’s beliefs about the use of marijuana during pregnancy and breastfeeding. We’re also interested in people’s beliefs about e-cigarette use during those times,” said Linda Cameron, Ph.D., a Professor of Health Psychology at UC Merced. “What motivated this study was that we heard from our community health clinic partners that this was a growing concern. That a lot of pregnant women were reporting that they were using marijuana, even when they were receiving the typical advice that they should not use marijuana or e-cigarettes during pregnancy.”
As they attend events this year, the Promotores will gather data on our community’s beliefs about marijuana and e-cigarette use during pregnancy – a job that our group of community and healthcare experts is uniquely qualified for.
“A lot of UC Merced’s research focuses on the community aspect of healthcare and reaching our community,” said UC Merced Research Project Manager Marisela Yepez. “And the Promotores really do an excellent job at reaching their community, because they’re experts within that community. We really rely on their expertise, and their ability to go out into the community.”
Of course, gathering information is only part of the Promotores’ job. The other part is helping mothers complete safe, healthy pregnancies, by making them aware of the potential dangers of marijuana and nicotine use.
“What the Promotores have done is allowed us to go out and reach the vulnerable communities that are so often ignored by this type of research,” said Paul Brown, Ph.D., a Professor of Public Health at UC Merced. “One of the things we’ve found is that it’s easy to gather information about groups like this in places like Los Angeles or San Francisco, but the people in our region are often overlooked. Going forward, what we’re hoping to do is expand this relationship with Promotores and not only looking at how we can engage our communities, but also help our communities influence policy.”
That’s a big job, but we think the Promotores de Salud can take it on! Look for the Promotores in attendance at community and health events throughout the year, and stay tuned for more news on our research partnership with UC Merced.