The Transformational Learning Experience of Training Community Health Advisors

Friday, July 15, 2011: 2:25 PM

Lachel Story, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS
Bonnie Lee Harbaugh, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to describe patterns and themes of CHAsí experiences of personal transformations while training to be change agents.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to describe implications of these findings for practice.

Though Community Health Advisors (CHA) have been utilized for more than 40 years as change agents in their communities to address health disparities, evaluation of CHA training remains in its infancy and even less is known about the CHA training experience. An interpretive phenomenological study explored the CHA training experience of five African-American women in the Mississippi Delta. Data were generated from interviews with the CHAs and the journal maintained by the training facilitator. A multi-ethnic team interpreted transcribed interviews and facilitator journal for common themes and patterns using hermeneutic strategies. Findings included two patterns. Pattern One: Gathering the CHAs AS Learners was comprised of three themes: (a) Learning AS Building Confidence: Creating a Safe Harbor, (b) Learning AS Questioning: Seeking Possibilities Beyond Answers, and (c) Learning AS Caring: Building the Circle of Trust. Pattern Two: Gathering the CHAs AS Doers: “It Starts with Us!” was comprised of three themes: (a) Taking on New Roles: Being Recognized, (b) Seeing the Possibilities: “When you know better you do better,” and (c) Taking Action: “It starts with us!” These patterns and themes are unique to this study and contribute significantly to the CHA body of knowledge.