The lung health ambassador program: A community-engagement initiative focusing on pulmonary-related health issues and disparities regarding tobacco use

Panagis Galiatsatos, Eliza Judge, Rachelle Koehl, Marcella Hill, Olivia Veira, Nadia Hansel, Michelle Eakin, Meredith McCormack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Educational campaigns have the potential to inform at risk populations about key issues relevant to lung health and to facilitate active engagement promoting healthy behaviors and risk prevention. We developed a community-based educational campaign called the Lung Health Ambassador Program (LHAP) with a goal of engaging youth and empowering them to be advocates for pulmonary health in their community. Objective: To evaluate the process outcomes and feasibility of the inaugural LHAP (2018–2019 academic year), with a specific aim to impact tobacco policy in the state of Maryland. Methods: Outcomes regarding feasibility included assessment of number of schools reached, number of students and healthcare professionals participating, and types of projects developed by participating students to impact modifiable risk factors for lung health. The courses for the LHAP were five 1 h sessions implemented at days and times identified by the community. The topics of the LHAP focused on lung anatomy, pulmonary diseases affecting school aged youth, tobacco use and prevalence, and air pollution (both indoor and outdoor). The fifth class discussed ways in which the students could impact lung health (e.g., policy and advocacy) and mitigate pulmonary disparities. Main Results: The LHAP was implemented at two elementary/middle schools, one high school, and two recreation centers within an urban metropolitan region. A total of 268 youths participated in the LHAP (age ranging from 11 to 18), whereby 72 (26.9%) were Hispanic/Latino and 110 (41.0%) were African American. Of the participating students, 240 wrote letters to local politicians to advocate for policies that would raise the legal age of acquiring tobacco products to 21. As for healthcare professionals, 18 academic faculty members participated in implementing the LHAP: 8 physicians and faculty staff and 10 nurses. Conclusions: The LHAP is a community-based program that provides education and training in advocacy with a goal of teaching about and, ultimately, reducing respiratory health disparities. The results from the first year demonstrate that the program is feasible, with success demonstrated in completing educational modules and engaging students. Next steps will include strategies to ensure sustainability and scalability to increase the reach of this program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

Keywords

  • Community engagement
  • School-based curriculum
  • Tobacco prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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