Fotonovelas and Anglo designs in health communications for Spanish-speaking residents along the U.S.-Mexico border

Barry Thatcher

Abstract


This study compares the intercultural instructional designs, based on eight intercultural value sets, of two types of health communications for Spanish-speaking U.S.-Mexico border populations. The first design is the fotonovela, or photo drama pamphlet, an approach that is well developed in Latin America and modeled after the famous Latin American television soap opera genre of telenovelas. This design dramatizes health information in culturally appropriate ways. The second design is Anglo dominant, representing predominant rhetorical and cultural preferences of the United States. Grounded in a Texas Health Equity project, the research team created a fotonovela for septic maintenance for border colonias. The team then compared the preference and effectiveness of the fotonovela to an existing EPA manual that reflected the Anglo dominant design, asking Spanish-speaking residents on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border their preferences for instructional designs. The results showed a very strong correlation between the fotonovela/Anglo designs and birthplace, language proficiency, and education. These results suggest that professional communicators need to move beyond demographics in designing their health communications for Spanish-speaking audiences. Instead, the study proposes a typology of five Hispanic/Latino identities for the U.S.-Mexico border, which helps professional communicators better assess rhetoric preferences and traditions.

Keywords


intercultural rhetoric; Latino identity; border; fotonovela; health literacy;

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