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UI uses new app to communicate with migrant workers about their health

IOWA CITY — University of Iowa researchers are working with a local non-profit to figure out the best way to gather and communicate health information to the state’s seven-thousand migrant workers.

Claudia Corwin, a professor in the U-I College of Medicine, says they’re working with Proteus, a federally qualified mobile health center. Researchers are using a mobile app to send out surveys with a few questions about mental health, chronic conditions and the COVID-19 vaccine. “What the worker will do is they will simply text back a single word response, they’ll have a choice,” Corwin says. “And then in the background, the app will be collecting and organizing all the data.”

The migrants are mostly from Mexico and many live near the Texas border. Corwin says these workers can be hard to reach because they’re so mobile and most don’t speak English. “Many of these workers, Spanish is even the secondary language,” she says. “Many workers have indigenous languages that they speak primarily.”

Corwin says the main focus of the study is to see if this method is a feasible way to communicate with the workers.

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