Beyond the Volcanoes: A Community Partnership for Health in Rural Nicaragua

Faculty Sponsor

Amy Cory




College of Nursing and Health Professions

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-23-2016


Background: Health inequities related to gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geography exist in rural Nicaragua due to a variety of causative factors. One such contributor to these inequalities is that of the increased exposure to indoor air pollution for women and children, and the subsequent respiratory infections that they may develop as a result of cooking over an open fire in poorly ventilated homes and kitchens. The purpose of the ongoing research project of Beyond the Volcanoes is to combat this particular additive to the global burden of disease and improve health equity in rural Nicaragua through social transformation using community-based participatory action research.

Methods: Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model provides the theoretical foundation for the use of community-based participatory research methodology. This methodology involves six phases: partnership, assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination.

Results: The research team has now implemented 150 stoves, and although data is continuing to be analyzed, women in the community are anecdotally expressing improvements in the health outcomes related to eye irritation, cough, chest illness, shortness of breath, and headache. Since 2007, seventeen students have participated on the research team, with five students returning post-graduation, for a total of 44 collective trips to one community in Nicaragua.

Conclusions: The results show that installing improved cookstoves with chimneys has decreased many symptoms previously experienced by residents of homes that cooked over open fires in the past.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Vanesa Abad is currently a junior at Valparaiso University pursuing a BS in nursing. She has traveled to Nicaragua twice since joining the research team in October of 2014. Vanesa's fluency in Spanish initially sparked her interest in a research project based in a Latin American country. After graduating from Valpo, Vanesa plans on returning to school to become a nurse practitioner.

Megan Heinz is a junior nursing student at Valparaiso University. When she found out about this project, it combined two things she desired: service and nursing. Megan has traveled to Nicaragua twice and has started to appreciate the community and their culture. Her future goals consist of graduating with her BSN and finding a job on an oncology unit. Following this, she would like to become a travel nurse.

Katelyn Mesalam is a junior pursuing a BSN at Valparaiso University. She chose this project because of the community based participatory action research method. She loved that the community members were first asked what health problems they faced, allowing them to be the leaders while the research team provided resources. Katelyn currently works at an OBGYN office and plans to earn a DNP in Women’s Health/Nurse Midwifery and work in an underserved area.

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