Vatsal and Priscila: Guatemala

Today marks the first day that I (Vatsal) am in the states to work on understanding community perceptions of the information received upon completion of the doctor visit, whether this is after a hospital visit or a clinic visit. With this being the 3rd time I have been to Guatemala (thanks to the CGH and UVA-Guatemala Initiative), I have improved my Spanish greatly and am ready to begin the UVA portion of our research.

Over the course of the past 4 weeks Priscila and I have piloted over 10 surveys to community members, doctors, and nurses in both Guatemala and in Charlottesville to learn where the errors in our survey instrument were and how we could clarify questions so that community members and healthcare professionals could respond appropriately.


I had the opportunity to visit one Centro de Salud and two Puesto de Salud while in Guatemala. Here I interviewed community members after they had left the clinic and I talk to the doctors and nursing staff who were available. One thing I have learned thus far is that the concept of a discharge summary varies incredibly between clinics and between patients. For instance, one community member told us that he had a really hard time understanding the instructions for his medicine because they did not explain what they were for and how long to take them. On another occasion, a community member said she was lucky because she could read the instructions the doctor/nurse wrote on the piece of paper. This community member also realized and described how difficult it might be to understand the instructions for medicine for someone who doesn’t know how to read.

Priscila and I have learned that the way a question is asked and the attitude of the surveyor can greatly impact the quality of the opinion received. In the coming week, I will be working with Dr. Max Luna and several community health promoters to further refine the survey and work with the health promoters to identify community sites where I can visit. I hope to begin surveying by the end of the week and contact doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers to set up meetings for this coming week.
Priscila will be getting culturally oriented to Guatemala and soon begin visiting other partnering health stations and hospitals. We plan on having weekly meetings to update each other on our efforts.

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