Formative research to develop a community-based intervention for chronic disease prevention in Guatemalan school-age children

Paola Letona, Manuel Ramirez-Zea, Benjamin Caballero, Joel Gittelsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Noncommunicable diseases (NCD) are the most common causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, even in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Recent trends in health promotion emphasize community-based interventions as an important strategy for improving health outcomes. The aim of this study was to conduct formative research regarding the perceptions of NCD risk factors, their influencing factors, and community resources available to aid the development and implementation of a community-based intervention with school-age children. Methods. Focus group discussions (n = 18), home visits (n = 30), and individual semi-structured interviews (n = 26) were conducted in three urban communities in Guatemala with school-age children (10-12 years of age), teachers, parents, and local community members (i.e., school principals, school food kiosk vendors, religious leaders, authority representatives). All focus groups and interviews were transcribed verbatim for thematic analysis. Results: Children, parents, and teachers have general knowledge about modifiable risk factors. Adults worried more about tobacco use, as compared to unhealthy diet and physical inactivity in children. Participants identified features at the intrapersonal (e.g., negative emotional state), interpersonal (e.g., peers as role models), and organizational and community levels (e.g., high levels of crime) that influence these risk factors in children. School committees, religious leaders, and government programs and activities were among the positive community resources identified. Conclusions: These findings should help researchers in Guatemala and similar LMIC to develop community-based interventions for NCD prevention in school-age children that are effective, feasible, and culturally acceptable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 31 2014


  • Behavioral risk factors
  • Chronic disease prevention
  • Community-based intervention
  • Developing countries
  • Formative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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