This project aims to develop and evaluate the role of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in primary health care in Australia. It includes a range of projects and activities including a systematic review of the literature on CHWs’ role in enhancing preventive care in the community and an evaluation of the Xtend program which involves CHWs in following patients up post discharge to prevent readmission. It is intended to extend this with work with trials to evaluate their effectiveness in the prevention of hospitalisation especially for people with multiple long-term conditions and/or who live alone and of their role in general practice in preventive care for vulnerable population groups.
Ben Harris-Roxas, Elizabeth Harris, Catherine Spooner
Julie Finch (SLHD), Fran Baum (Flinders University), Sabuj Kanti Mistry
The American Public Health Association defines a CHW 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”(40). There is increasing evidence of the effectiveness of CHWs in assisting patients to navigate their care and the complexities of referral and follow-up. CHW follow-up improved access to primary care while controlling recurrent readmissions in a high-risk population and they have been demonstrated to improve medication adherence post-discharge. CHWs have an important role in reducing health inequities by improving access to care for vulnerable and disadvantaged population groups especially indigenous and CALD populations. A 2018 systematic review found that, while navigators were first established to assist with access to cancer screening or care by marginalised populations, they are now expanding into diabetes prevention and self-management, smoking cessation, disease education, and addressing social and financial barriers to care.
To develop and evaluate the role of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in primary health care in Australia especially in improving access to preventive and pro-active care and appropriate use of hospital care.
We are planning trials to evaluate:
Sydney LHD (Initially)