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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Iowa: Partners with Local Congolese Community for Pregnancy Health Research

Four years ago, Dr. Denise Martinez, a family physician at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, noticed a pattern of adverse health outcomes among her patients from the local community of Congolese immigrants, and contacted Dr. Will Story, assistant professor of community and behavioral health in the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

Together, the pair created the foundation for community-based participatory research that focuses on understanding prenatal and pregnancy health in the Congolese community by partnering with the latter to learn about people’s needs and concerns.

First, Dr. Story said, the Congolese were trained in methods of community-based research, taught how to facilitate focus group discussions, and determined what their needs were.

“We did more than 50 interviews of men and women in our Congolese community in their native languages: French, Lingala, and Swahili,” Dr. Story said. “From that, we identified some of the major barriers and concerns in the community.”

What they found, Dr. Story said, was a concern for navigating health insurance, understanding the importance and process of natal care in the U.S., different options for childbirth in Iowa, and steps the community can take to access health care.

As a result, Dr. Story said health-care providers in the partnership continually work to clarify cultural differences in the health-insurance process in the U.S. versus the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“It’s not just about informing our community,” Dr. Story said. “It’s informing our providers the expectations of health care from our community.”

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