Using Telenovelas to Provide Health Education for Latinos

Objective: To raise awareness and knowledge about diseases, provide information about healthy lifestyles, and emphasize the availability of public health insurance programs.

Description: The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) partnered with Evolve Communications and the State’s most widely viewed Spanish language television station, Univision, to develop, produce and air “Encrucijada: Sin Salud no Hay Nada.” The series consisted of 12 half-hour novelas that provided important information on public health insurance programs, appropriate ways to access health care, and how to prevent or manage chronic conditions. The format was developed to meet the interest of Latino populations through a Spanish-language soap opera involving health issues affecting Hispanics and the services the state provides.

To be effective, entertainment products must find a balance between entertainment and information conveyed. At the same time, the messages and story lines must be relevant to the target audience. The characters in the drama should also reflect the target audience in a way that audience “see themselves” in the lives and stories portrayed in the telenovela. All these elements were present in “Ecrucijada” and were the result of a strong team of collaborators working on the project.

Results/Accomplishments/Evidence: The evaluation of the project found statistically significant change in the audiences’ attitudes and behaviors as designed by the intervention.

Population of Focus: Hispanic or Latino, Adults, Children, Adolescents, Transition aged, Limited English Proficient

Setting: Urban, Suburban, Rural and/or frontier

Level of Intervention: Community

Partners: Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, Evolve Communications, Univision

Background: The Colorado Health Foundation understands that Hispanics are affected by diabetes, obesity and other health issues at disproportionately high rates. For example, they have higher rates of obesity than Whites, African Americans or Asian children ages  2 to 14, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Hispanic adults are also three times more likely to die of diabetes than whites and two times more likely than African Americans. Language barriers and, for many, living in a new culture, mean they’re often hard to reach about their health options, making the telenovela an appealing avenue.



Amy Latham, Portfolio Director
The Colorado Health Foundation
510 S. Cherry Stree, Suite 100, Denver, Colorado 80246-1325