Anchorage, Alaska, has a large immigrant and refugee population.

Many speak limited English and most are unfamiliar with where, or how, to obtain health care services

The peer language navigator (PLN) programme, developed by Anchorage Health Literacy Collaborative, saw select people who attended the city’s adult literacy programme chosen to learn about health and wellness, as well as how to obtain information from reliable online sources.

Initially known as PLNs, these people were then trained to share health information resources with their respective communities.

A recent evaluation of the programme using ripple effects mapping showed it provided understandable health information to hundreds of new English learners throughout the area.

It helped guide them to reliable health information which they could use for themselves, their families and their communities.

PLNs have become leaders in their communities and renamed peer leader navigators.

The authors said, for similar programmes to be successful, PLNs should be trained using adult-learning principles, allowing them to focus on issues of interest to them.

Other recommendations included link with community organisations, avoiding overwhelming PLNs and, where possible, compensating them for their time.

Johnson R., Shepard L., Van Den Berg R., Ward-Waller C., Smith P., Weiss B.(2019). A Novel Approach to Improve Health Literacy in Immigrant Communities. HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice. 3(3 Suppl) S15-S24. doi: 10.3928/24748307-20190408-01 [link]