The Role of Promotores

In Latin America, the promotor grass roots movement began in the 1960s where peer-education programs were implemented to train women (promotoras) in diverse health themes in rural Central American. In the U.S., this model was introduced via the U.S. Federal Migrant Health Act of 1962 and the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (Peréz and Martinez, 2008).

In 1968, this model was successfully implemented by the Indian Health Service (IHS), which established a “Community Health Representative Program” (IHS, 2013). In recent decades, with an increase in Latino immigrant communities, especially outside the U.S.-Mexico border region, the promotor model has been successfully transferred to various states in the United States.

A promotor is a community member with an insight to local health and social issues that utilizes their knowledge of resources to educate on various topics, which ultimately promote healthy living in the overall community (Contreras 2005). They are considered conduits of information between their community and an institution or organization. The type of information and outreach that is provided may vary, but it has been traditionally focused on human health. Promotores are culturally and linguistically proficient with those they interact. They are also able to provide the information in a relevant manner to their audience.

They also advocate for individual and community needs thus assuring that they receive information or services. Promotores provide outreach via patient consultations, home visits, business interventions, and informational fairs. The ultimate goal is to build capacity in disadvantage populations in order for them to make informed decisions about various issues.