Online Program

Community health workers in the clinical setting: Are we ready to take a leap?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Jason Lee, B.S., School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
Jeffrey Cho, B.A., School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
Nellie Leon, DrPH, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
Thelma Gamboa, DrPH, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
Susanne Montgomery, PhD, MPH, MS, Behavioral Health Institute, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
The implementation of the Affordable Care Act will lead to a large influx of previously uninsured patients into an already stressed healthcare system resulting in concerns over the system's readiness to handle the additional strain. In the Inland Valleys of Southern California, as many as 300,000+ people are expected to gain access to healthcare by 2014, many from health-disparities groups. Studies show that Community Health Workers (CHWs) can improve the health outcomes of patients due to their unique knowledge of their community's culture and language - possibly allowing them to play a pivotal role in alleviating the increased pressure on the healthcare system. Guided by theories of organizational readiness, formative research was conducted to evaluate clinics' organizational capacity and institutional readiness for the inclusion of CHWs in their healthcare delivery. Qualitative data (key informant interviews and validation focus groups) examined clinic personnel's positions about the inclusion of CHWs in their healthcare treatment groups. Following the qualitative inquiry all healthcare teams were surveyed. Results point to language, culture and other contextual barriers to providing optimal care given existing resources, and a general openness (with some reservations) for professional clinic staff to partner with CHWs in order overcome these barriers and effectively begin to address currently observed health disparities. Our findings will inform the development and implementation of interventions aimed to integrate CHWs into the continuum of care in this changing system.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Other professions or practice related to public health
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Identify the promise of and barriers to successful involvement of CHWs in ongoing clinic care delivery. Discuss a process of collaborative interventions by CHWs in the context of optimal health care delivery.

Keyword(s): Organizational Change, Community Health Promoters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently a student of Loma Linda University School of Public Health in the Global Health MPH program. Throughout the program, I have been learning about how to develop community-based program interventions and am applying the principles by being intimately involved in the development and implementation of this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.