Partnering With CHWs to Improve the Health of Our Patient Populations

April 15, 2016   |  Tags: Blog   |  Tags: Community Health Workers , Care Teams
Rebekah Bally

As community health workers (CHWs) gain further prominence in our health care teams, they are also the subject of various research efforts. In particular, researchers are studying the efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and versatility of CHWs in public health and health care.

Some of the studies published this year report that partnering with CHWs is a cost-effective way to improve health outcomes in specific communities. One recent analysis of 67 peer-reviewed articles demonstrated apparent efficacy of CHWs in chronic disease management and care interventions among vulnerable populations specifically and of those, eight documented cost-effectiveness of CHW interventions. “In comparison, partnering with Community-based Health Workers (CBHWs) for chronic disease management and care interventions, tended to increase screening tests for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers; decrease blood pressure, blood glucose, and weight; and promote exercise in study samples” (Kim, et al., 2016, p.671). Other studies have demonstrated the CHWs can “perform as well or better than nurses as counselors or case managers in self-help diabetes management programs” for specific communities (Kim, K.B., et al. 2016). While these findings join many others in supporting the case for CHWs in chronic disease management and care, more research is being done to determine how CHWs might be incorporated into care teams for other health issues.

Additionally, research is highlighting how CHWs can fill many different roles in public health and health care. For example, CHWs are helping researchers gain insight from minority populations in order to develop culturally responsive health programs and public health interventions. Hohl, et al. (2016) examined the role of CHWs as research staff in 18 National Institute of Health-funded Centers for Population Health and Health Disparities (CPHHD) initiative projects. These centers reported “the most highly valued attributes of CHWs included knowledge of host community, communication skills, and personality” (Hohl, et al., 2016, p.668). While various models exist for bringing CHWs into health care teams and public health intervention program teams, many organizations are still discovering what works for their sites and their specific community needs.

Interested in how CHWs can be incorporated into your care team or sharing your success story? Join us for a webinar on April 27th!



Hohl, S.D; Thompson, B.; Krok-Schoen, J.L.; Weier, R.C.; Martin, M.; Bone, L.; McCarthy, W.J.; Noel, S.E.; Garcia, B.; Calderon, N.E.; Paskett, E.D. (2016). Characterizing community health workers on research teams: Results from the centers for population health and health disparities. Am J Public Health 106(4). Doi: 10.215/AJPH.2015.302980

Kangovi, S.; Carter, T.; Charles, D.; Smith, R.A.; Glanz, K.; Long, J.A.; and Grande, D. (2016). Toward a saleable, patient-centered community health worker model: Adapting the IMPaCT intervention for use in the outpatient setting. Population Health Management. March 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/pop.2015.0157.

Kim, K.; Choi, J.S; Choi, E.; Nieman, C.L.; Joo, J.H.; Lin, F.R.; Gitlin, L.N.; Han, H-R. (2016). Effects of community-based health worker interventions to improve chronic disease management and care among vulnerable populations: A systematic review. Am J of Public Health 106(4). DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302987


Rebekah Bally, MPH, CPH joined the Q-Corp team as the Facilitation & Improvement Specialist in 2015 to work on the Million Hearts campaign as well as to support Q-Corp programs like PCPCI. Her passion is bridging the clinical and population health perspectives through meaningful partnerships and learning opportunities. Rebekah grew her love for this work through her involvement in the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Open School where she was able to simultaneously develop skills in both clinical quality improvement and community organizing. She is also a newly appointed leadership team member for the 100 Million Healthier Lives Campaign, a global initiative addressing health and inequity at various levels. Rebekah earned her public health masters in health management and policy from Portland State University in Oregon and enjoys playing Frisbee with her dog, exploring the Pacific Northwest and embarking on copious hiking and camping trips in her spare time.