Knowledge and Attitudes of Potential Community Health Worker Employers: Findings from the State of Arkansas, USA

Authors: Jordan Fletcher, M. Kathryn Stewart, Sarah Fountain, Anna Huff Davis, Naomi Cottoms, Becky Adams, Taiwo Adesoba, Holly Felix, & Thomas Chung
Year: 2021
State: NatDoc: National Document
Website link:
Publicly Available: Yes
Certification: CHW input in process, CHW role scope of practice, Competencies, Continuing education, Training and training programs
Evidence Generation: Documentation of how CHWs can work within care teams, Surveys and assessment tools to define and develop workforce
Sustainable Financing: Engaging state partners in general, Expand evidence base, Documentation of how CHWs can work within care teams, Surveys and assessment tools to define and develop workforce
Workforce Development: CHW training programs (not cert.), Data sharing between social services and clinical teams, General other (including mention of “employment practices”), Outreach campaigns to identify CHWs, Outreach education and TA to employers on CHW generally, Recruiting and convening CHWs stakeholders, Training- Content modes delivery, Training- Continuing education

Community health workers (CHWs) are critical to health equity efforts, but sustaining CHW programs is challenging. Understanding stakeholders’ knowledge and attitudes about CHWs can inform strategies to advance this important workforce. The authors implemented an online survey of potential CHW employers to learn their perceptions of CHWs’ roles, outcomes, and abilities to affect important health outcomes, and of key issues that affect CHW employment. The survey was disseminated statewide to a diverse group of stakeholders working in healthcare in Arkansas. A total of 151 surveys were collected and included in the analysis. The organizations represented by respondents primarily included state and local agencies and clinics, followed by healthcare systems. The main professional roles of survey respondents were administrators and clinicians, followed by healthcare staff. Over 90% of respondents agreed that CHWs have the ability to conduct community outreach, serve as a liaison, navigate health systems, provide coaching support, and participate in care coordination. Over 90% of healthcare administrators, clinicians, and policymakers agreed that standardized training and a clear definition of role and scope of practice are important to CHW employment. However, almost two-thirds of respondents’ organizations were not employing CHWs, adding to previous research which has primarily focused on CHW employers’ attitudes. Understanding and addressing attitudes of those who lack experience with CHWs can help to identify actions needed to promote and increase adoption of CHWs. The authors share how they are using these data to engage stakeholders in decision-making and adoption of CHWs in their state.

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