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The Fotonovela

The Fotonovela  as an educational tool

A major challenge in the area of health education and behavior intervention is reaching persons with low literacy skills, as well as language or cross-cultural communication barriers. An innovative, effective approach for health care workers to reach this population and change behaviors is through the use of the fotonovela.[1]

The fotonovela places concepts in a relevant context and offers powerful role models. In terms of literacy, it offers greater readability and comprehension. Additionally, the integration of learners into project development increases the cultural appropriateness and sensitivity of the message and offers the flexibility to introduce socio-cultural issues.

The RWHP uses the novela format because it is an excellent educational tool. It has proven to be a successful means of communicating health information and other social issues that are indirectly health related.[2]   The fotonovelas published by the RWHP have gone through an acculturation process; in community work, the fotonovela has evolved from a form of entertainment in its countries of origin into a medium that presents health messages and serves as a tool of community affirmation. All fotonovelas developed by the RWHP incorporate four keys concepts:

  1. "Each one, teach one"
  2. Presentation of realistic options or solutions to issues
  3. Modeling of positive health behaviors
  4. Inclusion of all health and access messages into the storyline.


[1] Valle, R., Yamada, A. M., & Matiella, A. C. (2006). Fotonovelas:a health literacy tool for educating latino older adults about dementia . Regular Research Article, 30(1)
[2] Kirova, A. (2008). Fotonovela as a research tool in image-based participatory research with immigrant children . International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 7(2), 35.