PROMOTING HEALTHY PREGNANCY BEHAVIORS AMONG KAREN BURMESE REFUGEES

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2013-04-12

Authors

Board, Amy

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Abstract

Purpose: To identify gaps in knowledge and access to pregnancy-related care for Karen Burmese refugee women in Fort Worth, to identify a natural leader within this population, and to design a culturally appropriate educational intervention to enhance healthy pregnancy behavior. Methods: Through collaboration with local refugee resettlement agencies, the Karen were identified as a particularly vulnerable refugee population with regard to accessing proper prenatal care. Focus groups were designed to identify the baseline level of pregnancy knowledge and access to care. The March of Dimes curriculum was selected to translate into Karen and to adapt according to the specific cultural and educational needs of this group. Through discussion with key players in the Karen community, a natural leader within the population was identified to facilitate future education classes. Picture-based pre- and post-test materials were developed to accommodate the low-literacy rates of the population. The lay health worker model is used as a guide for focus group and intervention implementation. Results: A natural community leader within this population was identified to conduct focus groups and the education-based intervention. Discussions with leadership in the Karen community were integrated into an existing knowledge base about the population from a refugee resettlement agency perspective as well as from prior research experience with this group. It was concluded that conducting outreach for the focus groups and intervention should occur within the context of the Karen church to maximize acceptance of the project within the community. Focus groups will be initiated in March. The results will be used to tailor March of Dimes curriculum to meet the needs of a unique population at risk of poor prenatal outcomes and maternal health. Conclusions: Utilization of a natural community leader within the context of the lay health worker model is an ideal approach for properly identifying and tailoring interventions among the Karen Burmese due to its unique ability to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers.

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