Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

Systematic Review of LHWs in Pediatric Chronic Disease

The role of lay health workers in pediatric chronic disease: a systematic review

Raphael JL, Rueda A, Lion KC, Giordano TP

Children with chronic diseases represent a high-cost and resource-intensive population of children. With continued gaps in chronic disease management and persistent fragmentation in the health care system, stakeholders are seeking new strategies to address the needs of these children.

We sought to systematically assess the effectiveness of lay health worker interventions in improving health care utilization, symptom management, and family psychosocial outcomes for children with chronic conditions.

The search yielded 736 unique articles, of which 17 met inclusion criteria. All interventions focused on specific conditions: asthma, type I diabetes, obesity, and failure to thrive. Interventions were heterogeneous in frequency, mode, and duration of interactions between lay health workers and subjects. Several interventions were multifaceted, including both one-on-one and group interactions. Improved outcomes most commonly reported were reduced urgent care use, decreases in symptoms, fewer missed work and school days, and increased parental quality of life. One study demonstrated that lay health worker interventions were cost-effective.

Lay health workers interventions in children with chronic conditions may lead to modest improvements in urgent care use, symptoms, and parental psychosocial outcomes. Such interventions may also be cost-effective. Future research should focus on interventions targeted toward other chronic conditions such as sickle cell disease or cystic fibrosis and medically complex children whose conditions are noncategorical.

Acad Pediatr; Sept-Oct 2013 [Full Abstract]

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