Behavioral Health Aides in Rural Alaska: Their Experience in Caring for Alaska Native Cancer Survivors

Seq ID: 1
DocID: AK1
Authors: Kelley S, DeCourtney C, Owens X
Year: 2014
State: AK
Website link:
Publicly Available: Yes
Workforce Development: Training- Content/modes/delivery, Training- Continuing education

Abstract: The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium conducted a statewide survey of rural community behavioral health aides (BHAs) within the tribal health system to assess their need for psychological and emotional support training for their work with cancer survivors. An electronic survey was distributed to all 114 rural BHAs in Alaska. They were asked about cancer survivors living in their community, whether they had been called to provide counseling to those survivors and about their comfort level in addressing cancer-related emotional issues and concerns experience by the patients and their families. Sixty-one (54 %) BHAs responded, 62 % knew of cancer survivors in their community, and 88 % of whom agreed that it is their job to provide support to those cancer survivors. Of the 47% of BHAs who had provided counseling to cancer survivors, 63 % noted a lack of adequate training about how to provide that counseling. Dealing with “emotional concerns” was reported as the most difficult issue. Almost all (98%) reported that they would likely participate in training to improve counseling skills. Most BHAs in rural Alaska know of a cancer survivor in their community and may be called on to provide mental health services, but few report adequate training in how to provide these services. Given the remote locations in which many BHAs work and the lack of local resources to guide them, more education is needed about how to support cancer survivors. This study provides information to help guide development of content of that education.

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