Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne illness that causes fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling and rash. One of the main entry points into the U.S. for the virus is the porous U.S./Mexico border region. Specifically Spanish-speaking border-region residents that frequently travel between the U.S. and Mexico. The CDC created Spanish language informational material but was concerned that awareness of the virus and its mode of transmission was still extremely low among Spanish speakers in the region. Distrust within the border region presented another challenge as prospects were highly suspicious of being interviewed due to widespread deportation rumors.
ThinkNow Research worked with local community organizations and within the CDC to enhance recruitment outreach. A series of in-person focus groups of bicultural and unacculturated Hispanic residents were successfully conducted along the U.S./Mexico border to determine how best to communicate the dangers of Chikungunya to this demographic. The focus groups took place in San Diego, CA, Las Cruces, NM, McCallen, TX, Nogales, AZ and El Paso TX, where attitudes and awareness were determined while simultaneously evaluating informational collateral within the groups.
Working collaboratively, ThinkNow and the CDC met weekly to compare findings. We uncovered messaging and imagery that communicated a clear message and resonated with focus group participants. As a result, the CDC was able to determine which collateral communications and overall language and visual constructions were most effective in communicating how to avoid contracting or spreading the virus. The CDC updated messaging and collateral based on ThinkNow’s research results and distributed the new materials to healthcare centers throughout the region. The collateral from this project is still in use today and has helped the CDC achieve its goal of slowing the virus’ spread into the U.S. mainland.