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February 2024 Rural News for Nurses

February 16, 2024 9:59 AM | Anonymous

This blog post was prepared by RNO Website Committee Chair Joan Grant Keltner.

Community health workers (CHWs) are trained public employees or volunteers who provide specialized services, often providing care to poor, rural, and underserved individuals within racial and ethnic minority communities. They live in communities they serve and better understand factors important in gaining acceptance and helping patients and families understand important medical facts and issues. In essence, these CHWs act as liaisons between health providers and patients/family members (RHIhub, 2023).

These health care providers also improve quality of life and show positive outcomes for patients and their families by facilitating healthcare access and information and enhancing the healthcare team (RHIhub, 2023). Evidence from 26 studies supported the value of these health workers in providing important health information (46%) and community resources (27%), or both (27%). The most common topics related to chronic illnesses (38.5%) and women’s health (Berini et al., 2022). These services include:

  • health and prevention education;
  • referrals to health providers for physical and psychosocial services;
  • assistance in navigating and coordinating care within the health care and social services system;
  • monitoring and supporting realistic goals in managing chronic illnesses; and
  • basic screening tests for chronic conditions (e.g., glucoses, B/Ps, etc.; RHIhub, 2023).

Another study is extending the role of CHWs to offer pediatric telebehavioral health care in rural communities. This new program hopes to expand the behavioral health workforce by integrating trained school-based community health workers (CHWs) in rural communities. They will do basic screenings, coordinate behavioral health appointments, alleviate logistical and technology issues, and provide access to social services (Nelson et al., 2022).

Berini, C. R., Bonilha, H. S. & Simpson, A. N. (2022). Impact of community health workers on access to care for rural populations in the United States: A systematic review. Journal of Community Health, 47, 539–553.

Nelson, E. L., Zhang, E., Punt, S. E., Engel, I. J., Giovanetti, A. K., & Stiles, R. (2022). Leveraging community health workers in extending pediatric telebehavioral health care in rural communities: Evaluation design and methods. Families, Systems & Health, 40(4), 566–571.

Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub). (2023). Community health workers in rural settings.

Phone: 1 (609) 519-9689

PO Box 7
Mullica Hill, NJ 08062

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