Performance Improvement 1999. Community Health Workers


TITLE: Impact of Community Health Workers on Access, Use of Services and Patient Knowledge and Behavior

ABSTRACT: In recent years, the Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA's) primary care programs have increased their use of community health workers (CHWs) to augment and complement the care patients receive from medical and social service staff members, as well as to help link the community with the providers. Community health workers provide informal community-based health-related services, establishing vital links between community-based health providers and persons in the community. The main purposes of this study were to provide information on the use of CHWs in HRSA-funded primary care projects , and to determine the effects of using CHWs on patients' access to, and proper use of, services, and on patient knowledge and behavior. An annotated bibliography of studies of CHWs was prepared, and documents on 60 HRSA-funded projects utilizing CHWs were reviewed. Fourteen projects were profiled and seven were site visited. During the visits, focus groups were held with clients. The study found that CHWs were effective in helping clients find needed services and in providing services that were previously unavailable or limited. CHWs assisted patients with the proper use of services such as immunizations and breast cancer screening, and provided education programs to increase patient knowledge about a variety of topics such as hygiene, substance abuse, nutrition and domestic violence. CHWs were actively involved in case finding and case management in most programs. In some locations, CHWs provided services (e.g., adult day care) that had been unavailable in the community. Study results have been widely distributed and are being used to inform policy on use of CHWs in HRSA-funded programs.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Bureau of Primary Health Care


PHONE NUMBER: 301-443-7577

PIC ID: 6355

PERFORMER ORGANIZATION: The George Washington University, Washington, D.C.