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Defining the ‘Community’: An Application of Ethnographic Methods for a Latino Immigrant Health Disparities Intervention


The Avance Center recently published an article in the Society for Applied Anthropology’s Journal of Human Organization titled, Defining the ‘Community’: An Application of Ethnographic Methods for a Latino Immigrant Health Disparities Intervention.

Although Latino and other immigrant populations are the driving force behind population increases in the United States, there are significant gaps in knowledge and practice on addressing health disparities in these populations. The Avance Center for the Advancement of Immigrant/Refugee Health includes as part of its mission a multi-level, participatory community intervention (called Adelante) to address the co-occurrence of substance abuse, violence, and sex risk among Latino immigrant youth and young adults. Research staff and community partners knew that the intervention community had grown beyond its Census-designated place (CDP) boundaries, and that connection and attachment to community were relevant to an intervention. Thus, in order to understand current geographic and social boundaries of the community for sampling, data collection, intervention design, and implementation, the research team conducted an ethnographic study to identify self-defined community boundaries, both geographic and social. Beginning with preliminary data from a pilot intervention and the original CDP map, the research included: geo-mapping de-identified addresses of service clients from a major community organization, key informant interviews, and observation and intercept interviews in the community. The results provided an expanded community boundary profile and important information about community identity.

Read the full article here.

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