A Handwashing Educational Toolkit: The Product of a Dynamic Partnership Among a Student, Faculty Member, and Community Organization

AnnMarie Walton, Catherine LePrevost, Gayle Thomas, Mary Johnson Rockers, Allison Lipscomb


Pesticide exposure represents a significant occupational health hazard for farmworkers, and handwashing is one strategy to reduce exposure via the dermal route. After learning about recent research findings regarding the lack of handwashing utilized by North Carolina farmworkers in the field, the North Carolina Farmworker Health Program approached the student and faculty member who conducted the research to partner and improve handwashing education, with the goal of reducing pesticide exposure among farmworkers. The resulting handwashing educational toolkit was the product of a participatory development project that engaged farmworker health outreach workers with university partners in every stage—from needs assessment to method and message selection and, ultimately, educational material development and evaluation. This promising project serves as a model for a sustainable partnership among a student, faculty member, and community organization and underscores the importance of respect, equality, and distributed power in collaboratively responding to a community-identified need.

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