Exploring the Role of Community Health Workers in Improving the Collection of Family Health History: A Pilot Study

Authors: Caitlin G. Allen, PhD, MPH, Brittaney J. Bethea, MPH, Lawrence P. McKinney, MPH, Cam Escoffery, PhD, MPH, Tabia Henry Akintobi, PhD, Gail G. McCray, MA, Colleen M. McBride, PhD
Year: 2021
State: GA
Website link: https://nachw.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Allen-2021-CHW-roles-in-taking-history.pdf
Publicly Available: Yes
Certification: CHW input in process, CHW role scope of practice, Competencies
Evidence Generation: Documentation of how CHWs can work within care teams
Policy: National guidance especially in new policy areas
Sustainable Financing: Documentation of how CHWs can work within care teams
Workforce Development: CHW training programs (not cert.), Data sharing between social services and clinical teams, Training- Content modes delivery, Training- Continuing education

Community health workers (CHWs) have been successful partners in addressing public health and health care challenges but have yet to be engaged in efforts to promote family health history (FHH) collection. FHH information is a key factor in determining disease risk and supporting screening and prevention across multiple diseases. The collection of FHH information could be facilitated by the existing cadre of CHWs already working alongside clients and families. In this qualitative study, we interviewed 30 CHWs from Georgia to better understand the current level of knowledge about FHH, perceptions of how FHH collection aligns with their role, and barriers and facilitators in order to support more active involvement of CHWs in FHH collection. Interviews were completed, transcribed, and double coded by three study team members. More than half of CHWs reported knowing their own FHH information. CHWs showed a strong interest and support for collecting FHH in their job, despite limited current engagement in this role. CHWs acknowledged the collection of FHH as being an opportunity to empower clients to have conversations with their providers. To better support this work, CHWs requested training in using and integrating FHH tools into their workflow and support in communicating about FHH with their clients. Our findings suggest that with support and training, CHWs are uniquely positioned to improve FHH collection among their client base. Ultimately, improving FHH collection skills among the population could allow for better integration of risk-stratified approaches that are informed by FHH information for the prevention, management, and treatment of disease.

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