DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Latinas experience higher cervical cancer (CC) incidence and mortality when compared to the general population in the United States. Many Latinas lack access to health care and experience literacy, communication, and knowledge barriers that prevent them from obtaining CC screening. Patient navigator (PN) and other similar interventions have been implemented to increase CC screening rates; however, few have focused directly on the needs of Latinas. Interactive technological interventions, like embodied conversational agents (ECA), are currently used in other populations, settings, and for other health topics, but no known initiative has used culturally and literacy appropriate technology to deliver Spanish-language CC education as part of a PN intervention. This study aims to create and conduct a preliminary evaluation of a Spanish-language Virtual Patient Educator (VPE) multimedia application to augment a PN intervention for increasing CC screening rates among Latinas in a rural agricultural community. Using the Social Cognitive Theory, the proposed project will be conducted in 2 phases. In Phase 1, the research team will engage community members to develop a low literacy Spanish-language interactive multimedia application consisting of an ECA. Using theoretical principles and drawing from our formative research, the project team will design the VPE through systematic and technical processes. Ongoing feedback (usability testing) from members of the intended audience will be carried out to ensure that patients (users) can perform intended system tasks efficiently, effectively, and satisfactoril. Once usability testing is complete, a series of learner verification interviews will be conducted t assess initial suitability of the VPE. Since the VPE will be the first known Spanish-language ECA used to augment a PN intervention, it is important to see whether patients accept the VPE and whether it is feasible to conduct a study of patient navigation augmented by the VPE. In Phase 2, a preliminary evaluation of 2 methods of patient navigation delivery (with and without VPE) will be conducted with 60 participants who are not up to date with recommended CC screening according to American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians' guidelines. Cluster randomization will be used to randomize patients to 1 of 2 PN intervention conditions: (1) PN; or (2) PN plus VPE (PN+VPE) using date of clinic as unit of randomization. The preliminary evaluation will examine the feasibility of recruitment, randomization, data collection,
and acceptability of VPE application. Exploratory data will also be collected regarding the potential impact of PN+VPE on behavioral capacity and self-efficacy for obtaining CC screening, Pap test adherence, and satisfaction with care. The proposed project will advance our research towards the development of interactive technology interventions to disseminate health education to disparate populations.
PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Latinas experience higher cervical cancer incidence and mortality when compared to the general population in the United States. The proposed study is the first to develop interactive technology to augment a patient navigation intervention by providing patient education about human papillomavirus, cervical cancer, and the importance of regular cervical cancer screening. A patient navigation intervention augmented by interactive educational technology is expected to enhance and extend access to health information and health care for Spanish-speaking Latinas living in a rural agricultural community.
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