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SUHI Project:Community Health Worker Programs in Chicago’s Health Care Institutions: Research and Evaluation

Project:

Community Health Worker Programs in Chicago’s Health Care Institutions: Research and Evaluation 

Introduction:

BACKGROUND

Community Health Worker (CHW) is an umbrella term that refers to workers who may be employed under a variety of titles, including but not limited to: Community Health Worker, Community Health Educator, Patient Navigator, Promoter (a) de Salud, Peer Mentor/Counselor, Chronic Disease Educator, Community Health Representative, Health Advisor, Lay Health Advocate, and Outreach Worker.

The American Public Health Association defines a Community Health Worker as:

“…a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.

A CHW also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.”

CHW Programs at the Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI). CHWs have been central to SUHI’s work in eliminating health disparities in Chicago’s most vulnerable communities since its inception. A wealth of experience has been amassed in recruiting, training, supervising and deploying the CHW workforce to deliver health education, assist clients in navigating the health care system, and connecting clients with appropriate social service needs. SUHI has implemented CHW projects in various health conditions, including:

      1.  Asthma Management

      2.  Diabetes

      3.  Breast Health

      4.  HIV/STD

SUHI has also conducted extensive research on the CHW model in general and in 2014, released a report entitled, Best Practice Guidelines for Implementing and Evaluating Community Health Worker Programs in Health Care Settings. The length and breadth of our experience make SUHI a leading expert in the field of CHW research, both locally and nationally. SUHI can provide consulting on its expertise and intellectual property regarding the CHW model and its integration within health care systems. Please contact us at suhi@sinai.org for additional information.

Project Summary

Community Health Worker Programs in Chicago’s Health Care Institutions: Research and Evaluation Project

In July 2011, SUHI received funding from the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation to implement the Community Health Worker Programs in Chicago’s Health Care Institutions: Research and Evaluation project.

The primary aim of this project is to clearly delineate CHW effectiveness and best practices in terms of evidence-based science. The project will answer research and evaluation questions posed throughout the CHW field. Information collected in the study will be synthesized and analyzed to produce:

  1. Guidelines for the Implementation of CHW  Models in Health Care Settings; and
  2. Tools to aid programs wanting to more critically examine processes, outcomes, cost and cost-benefits associated with CHW interventions

We believe this research will not only assist local health care institutions in improving their health programs and outreach to communities, but also improve their capacity for evaluation. It is our intention that this work will lead to better implementation of the CHW model, better training, improved community connection with the health care system, and ultimately improved health and quality of life for vulnerable communities.

Project Plan:

The project’s goal is to gather and synthesize the best available evidence on CHW research and evaluation to create CHW Best Practice Guidelines. Specifically, we will:

  1. Conduct an extensive review of the available published literature, including evidence from the 2007 Community Health Worker National Workforce Study
  2. Survey CHWs and CHW administrators working in health care centers in Chicago to gain insight into CHW roles, program structures, and evaluation in health care settings
  3. Reflect on SUHI’s experience in the field as we implement the CHW model
  4. Gather additional perspectives from the field through interviews and informal discussions with local and national CHW employers, researchers, and CHWs themselves

The resulting CHW Best Practice Guidelines and related evaluation tools address gaps in the CHW professional literature and assist health care administrators, public health professionals, health care providers, CHWs, and communities in designing and implementing CHW interventions grounded in evidence-based science.

Project Updates:

Upon completion of this project, SUHI released a report entitled, Best Practice Guidelines for Implementing and Evaluating Community Health Worker Programs in Health Care Settings.  We are excited to share the CHW Best Practice Guidelines with you in the form of a PDF available here. To request a free printed copy of the report, email Jamie Campbell at suhi@sinai.org.

SUHI continues to widely disseminate the findings in the report. SUHI is also available for consulting on the CHW model. Please contact us at suhi@sinai.org for more information on our consulting services.

Publications: