Counseled women’s perspectives on their interactions with lay health advisors: a feasibility study
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Although the use of lay health advisors (LHAs) has become a popular intervention in public health promotion projects, few programs have conducted evaluations demonstrating program impact by interviewing people actually counseled by LHAs. This study used semistructured, in-person interviews with 29 older, black women to elicit their perceptions of their interactions with the North Carolina Breast Cancer Screening Program’s LHAs, and the ways in which these interactions affected their mammography attitudes and behavior. Interview data indicate that a majority of the respondents felt that LHAs had helped them in some way; most said that talking to advisors made them think more positively about mammograms and/or consider getting one. LHAs influenced the women they counseled because the women knew the advisors well, felt comfortable talking to advisors about private issues, considered advisors to be credible sources of information about mammography and because advisors offered women support with respect to their mammography behavior. These results elucidate some of the mechanisms through which LHAs affect the attitudes and behavior of individuals in their social networks.