Nursing Professor Will Study TB among Latino Immigrants

Posted: October 31, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lori Jennings

Rita Ailinger
Rita Ailinger

“Although TB is preventable and curable, it has re-emerged as a significant health problem in the United States, particularly among Latino immigrants,” says Rita Ailinger, professor of nursing with the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), formerly the College of Nursing and Health Science.

To combat the problem, Ailinger will conduct a pilot study, “Cultural Intervention for Latinos with TB Infection,” under a National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research grant.

The study will address adherence to therapy for TB infection, not active TB disease, specifically among Latino immigrants. Latinos comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for 25 percent of TB cases.

Given the potential threat and the major costs associated with the illness, full adherence to latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) therapy is considered imperative under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 objective. One of the goals of this objective focuses on increasing adherence to LTBI therapy to 85 percent from a baseline of 62 percent.

The study will recruit 110 Latino immigrant LTBI clients from the Arlington County (Va.) Public Health Division. For nine months during their monthly clinic visits, the clients will receive a cultural intervention based on Latino cultural values, language conventions and adapted educational materials.

“We are excited by the potential applications for this research,” says Ailinger.

The project is funded by a two-year grant for $216,000. Results from this study will be assessed to determine the feasibility of a future clinical trial.

Ailinger serves as the director of Nursing Research Development within CHHS and also teaches courses in research methods and community health nursing. She is an anthropologist with extensive experience in Latin America, and her research primarily focuses on Latino immigrant health issues. She received the Phi Beta Delta (international education honor society) Faculty Award for outstanding contributions to international education in 2003 and the Sigma Theta Tau International Regional Mentor Award in 2001. She is the author of numerous publications.

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