Abstract: Enhancing Self-Efficacy in Community Led Health Initiatives

The Student Organization for Medical Outreach and Sustainability (SOMOS) is an ongoing undergraduate research project at the college focused in community development and health promotion in the Dominican Republic. More than 10 years ago, the team, under the direction of Dr. David Aday, began partnering with the people of Esfuerzo de Paraíso, an underserved community in Northern Santo Domingo made up of roughly 85 households. We continue to partner with the community through Community-Based Participatory Research to increase participation, community capacity, and health outcomes.


The households in the community are split into 4 block groups which meet regularly to discuss community issues. Each block group has a block group leader as well as a representative to the Committee on Water Management (Comité de Agua, CDA) and a representative to the Committee on Health (Comité de Salud, CDS). SOMOS works closely with these groups to build participation and community engagement surrounding issues of health and flooding within the community. Last summer, SOMOS team member Morgan Sehdev began research that aimed to prioritize health concerns of community members and measure self-efficacy as it relates to health (read more about her project here!). Through interviews with community members and members of the CDS, Morgan learned that many members of the community reported high levels of concern about Dengue fever, a mosquito borne illness. This lead to the development and implementation of a Dengue fever prevention campaign, carried out by the CDS through the distribution of informational materials and the presentation of a clinic talk given by local physicians.


Based on the perceived success of the Dengue campaign, the focus of this summer’s team- composed of SOMOS members Zoe Miller, Raya Iqbal, and me- will be to further increase the CDS’ perceived self-efficacy regarding their ability to carry out health promotion projects within the community. Rooted in the Health Belief Model, the summer team will work with the CDS to conduct interviews of community members to better understand the perceived effectiveness of the Dengue campaign and begin discussion of common health concerns that can be prioritized in the future. The goal is to encourage CDS members to take the lead on this research- establishing primary goals and research questions, developing the protocol, piloting and carrying out the interviews, with SOMOS members providing support and guidance as needed.  We hope that this process will not only provide data which the CDS can use to move forward in their health promotion efforts, but also develop tangible research skills that support sustainable development and engage more members of the community in the project. The work this summer will help us further understand how principles of CBPR can be applied within the community of Esfuerzo to enhance self-efficacy of the CDS and contribute to the larger efforts of the SOMOS project. Thanks for your interest in our project, we hope you continue to follow our progress as we prepare for our departure on May 18th!