Healthcare Disparities Report

Strategies Funding Programs Policies

Graphics, Cultural Context Teach Florida Adults About Healthcare

Florida: Organizations in Florida are using pictures and stories to teach adults about healthcare. Sokoya Finch tells about her experience using fotonovelas at the Steps To A Healthier US summit in Baltimore. Finch is with Florida Family Network and works with Big Bend Rural Health Network, too. She tells the workshop the groups were trying to reach a particular community on Florida’s panhandle that had a high infant mortality rate.


The community’s adults have a low literacy rate, so officials needed something creative to capture their attention, Finch says. They turned to fotonovelas. Fotonovelas are akin to comics. They tell stories with pictures and a little dialogue. They are used to tell stories in Latin America, Finch says. Fotonovelas are written in a group’s cultural context and language, and are entertaining.

Production costs for three fotonovelas focusing on prenatal care, douching and periodontal care were relatively low, Finch says. A photographer friend took pictures of local people with simple props and settings. The black and white, glossy editions were printed at a prison. The materials, called the Healthy Gossip Series, have now been placed in several health centers and juvenile detention centers and distributed at health fairs around the state, Finch says. Healthy Gossip is used in support groups to help stimulate discussion.


“Healthy Gossip gives shape, form, rhythm and voice to their issues, and it becomes their story,” Finch says. It’s important to understand the cultural language of a targeted population when doing research or any work, Finch says. That cultural understanding needs to be part of the design, implementation and dissemination processes