Purpose: To evaluate the qualitative aspects of the Hispanic Labor Friends Initiative.
Methods: “Hispanic Labor Friends,” bilingual Hispanic community women who were themselves mothers, were recruited by clinic and hospital personnel. Women who agreed were educated, received translation certification, and were oriented to the initiative. Pregnant Hispanic immigrant women seen in the health center who met criteria set by the multidisciplinary health care team were assigned a Hispanic Labor Friend by 32 weeks' gestation. Hispanic Labor Friends assisted women with communication with healthcare providers and provided social support. Qualitative evaluation of the program consisted of interviews with several groups: (1) Hispanic immigrant women who had a Hispanic Labor Friend, (2) Hispanic immigrant women who were not in the Hispanic Labor Friends program, (3) Hispanic Labor Friends, (4) healthcare providers for Hispanic women. Data saturation was reached, and data were analyzed by the research team using descriptive qualitative inquiry.
Results: The Hispanic immigrant women described positive outcomes from being involved in the Hispanic Labor Friends program, including feeling supported and comforted. “I felt as though my family were at my side.” One woman who had standard care said, “It is hard for me to communicate. When I gave birth, the nurses asked me things, and I didn't understand anything. I stayed quiet.” One of the nurses who was interviewed said: “I think they [the HLF patients] get better care. Sometimes we think we can communicate with them with their little bit of English and our little bit of Spanish. But you get an HLF and it's a totally different story. We can more adequately tell what's going on with them…They end up getting better care.” One Hispanic Labor Friend said, “The women are very appreciative that I was there to help them through a critical time.” Women who participated in the study identified the need to have a continuing association with Hispanic Labor Friends in the early postpartum period.
Clinical Implications: The provision of culturally appropriate social support is critical in the care of Hispanic immigrant childbearing women. Programs such as the Hispanic Labor Friends Initiative can help improve support and promote positive outcomes in these vulnerable and disadvantaged women.