Online Program

Supporting Community Health Workers after a Disaster: Findings from a Mixed-Methods Evaluation Study

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tara Powell, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
Paula Yuma-Guerrero, MPH, PhD, School of Social Work, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Kate Dischino, CEM, AmeriCares, Stamford, CT
Community health workers (CHWs) in disaster affected areas are at risk for emotional distress, as they support others while they may be in the process of rebuilding their own lives.  The Resilience and Coping for the Healthcare Community (RCHC) intervention was developed in response to the stress CHWs faced after Hurricane Sandy.  The intervention uses psychoeducation to help participants identify common stress responses, recognize signs of job burnout, and utilize healthy coping strategies.

A mixed methods pilot study on was RCHC conducted in 2013 with a convenience sample of staff from 6 federally qualified health centers (n=69).  Validated measures of stress, coping, compassion fatigue & satisfaction, burnout, stress, and social provisions, and a measure of perceived knowledge, were administered at baseline, post-workshop and at a 3-week follow-up.  Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 randomly selected participants and analyzed using content analysis. 

From baseline to post-workshop (n=69), perceived knowledge scores increased from 24.59 to 30.34, t(62)=5.16 (p<0.001), and acute stress scores decreased significantly from 10.53 to 6.78, t(64)=4.74 (p<0.001). Significant increases from baseline to three-week follow-up (n=56) were found for perceived knowledge (24.05 to 27.24), t(40)=5.37, p<0.001, and social provisions (27.34 to 28.39), t(44)=2.15, p<0.05. 

Qualitative findings indicated respondents valued learning about common stress responses and incorporating coping as part of a daily routine.   Team building and normalization of emotions were seen as ancillary benefits that would reduce stress levels in the workplace.  In conclusion, RCHC shows promise and should be investigated further in experimental studies.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the outcomes of a post-disaster community health worker intervention Identify protective factors to reduce burn out in community health workers Analyze mixed method outcomes of a quasi-experimental study

Keyword(s): Disasters, Stress

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author because I conducted the research and the intervention.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
AmeriCares Disaster Independent Contractor (contracted research and clinical trials)

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.