Scientific Evidence


CHWs as an Integral Strategy in the REACH U.S. Program to Eliminate Health Inequities

Health Promot Pract. 2014 Jul 25. [Pubmed Abstract]

Community Health Workers as an Integral Strategy in the REACH U.S. Program to Eliminate Health Inequities
Cosgrove S, Moore-Monroy M, Jenkins C, Castillo SR, Williams C, Parris E, Tran JH, Rivera MD, Brownstein JN

Mounting evidence indicates that community health workers (CHWs) contribute to improved behavioral and health outcomes and reductions in health disparities. We provide an overview (based on grantee reports and community action plans) that describe CHW contributions to 22 Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) programs funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2007 to 2012, offering additional evidence of their contributions to the effectiveness of community public health programs. We then highlight how CHWs helped deliver REACH U.S. community interventions to meet differing needs across communities to bridge the gap between health care services and community members, build community and individual capacity to plan and implement interventions addressing multiple chronic health conditions, and meet community needs in a culturally appropriate manner. The experience, skills, and success gained by CHWs participating in the REACH U.S. program have fostered important individual community-level changes geared to increase health equity. Finally, we underscore the importance of CHWs being embedded within these communities and the flexibility they offer to intervention strategies, both of which are characteristics critical to meeting needs of communities experiencing health disparities. CHWs served a vital role in facilitating and leading changes and will continue to do so.


MATCH: An RCT of a CHW Intervention for Mexican Americans with Diabetes

Am J Public Health. 2014 Aug;104(8):1540-8. [Pubmed Abstract]

Mexican American trial of community health workers: a randomized controlled trial of a community health worker intervention for Mexican Americans with type 2 diabetes mellitus
Rothschild SK, Martin MA, Swider SM, Tumialán Lynas CM, Janssen I, Avery EF, Powell LH

We assessed whether community health workers (CHWs) could improve glycemic control among Mexican Americans with diabetes.

We recruited 144 Mexican Americans with type 2 diabetes between January 2006 and September 2008 into the single-blinded, randomized controlled Mexican American Trial of Community Health Workers (MATCH) and followed them for 2 years. Participants were assigned to either a CHW intervention, delivering self-management training through 36 home visits over 2 years, or a bilingual control newsletter delivering the same information on the same schedule.

Intervention participants showed significantly lower hemoglobin A1c levels than control participants at both year 1 Δ = -0.55; P = .021) and year 2 (Δ = -0.69; P = .005). We observed no effect on blood pressure control, glucose self-monitoring, or adherence to medications or diet. Intervention participants increased physical activity from a mean of 1.63 days per week at baseline to 2.64 days per week after 2 years.

A self-management intervention delivered by CHWs resulted in sustained improvements in glycemic control over 2 years among Mexican Americans with diabetes. MATCH adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the use of CHWs to reduce diabetes-related health disparities.


CHW-Assisted Diabetes Self-Management Support: An RCT

Contemp Clin Trials. 2014 Jun 20. [PubMed Abstract]

Peer Support for Achieving Independence in Diabetes (Peer-AID): Design, methods and baseline characteristics of a randomized controlled trial of community health worker assisted diabetes self-management support
Nelson K, Drain N, Robinson J, Kapp J, Hebert P, Taylor L, Silverman J, Kiefer M, Lessler D, Krieger J

Community health workers (CHWs) may be an important mechanism to provide diabetes self-management to disadvantaged populations. We describe the design and baseline results of a trial evaluating a home-based CHW intervention.

Methods & Research Design
Peer Support for Achieving Independence in Diabetes (Peer-AID) is a randomized, controlled trial evaluating a home-based CHW-delivered diabetes self-management intervention versus usual care. The study recruited participants from 3 health systems. Change in A1c measured at 12 months is the primary outcome. Change in blood pressure, lipids, health care utilization, health-related quality of life, self-efficacy and diabetes self-management behaviors at 12 months are secondary outcomes.

A total of 1,438 patients were identified by medical record review as potentially eligible, 445 patients were screened by telephone for eligibility and 287 were randomized. Groups were comparable at baseline on socio-demographic and clinical characteristics. All participants were low-income and were from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The mean A1c was 8.9%, mean BMI was above the obese range, and non-adherence to diabetes medications was high. The cohort had high rates of co-morbid disease and low self-reported health status. Although one-third reported no health insurance, the mean number of visits to a physician in the past year was 5.7. Trial results are pending.

Peer-AID recruited and enrolled a diverse group of low income participants with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes and delivered a home-based diabetes self-management program. If effective, replication of the Peer-AID intervention in community based settings could contribute to improved control of diabetes in vulnerable populations.