Researchers at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health investigated examined community health worker (CHW) effects on chronic disease outcomes using electronic health records (EHRs). The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.
[Photo: Ms. Maia Ingram]
The investigators examined EHRs of 32,147 patients at risk for chronic disease during 2012 to 2015. Variables included contact with clinic-based CHWs, vitals, and laboratory tests. They estimated a mixed model for all outcomes.
Within-group findings showed statistically significant improvements in chronic disease indicators after exposure to CHWs. In health center 1, HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin) decreased 0.15 millimoles per mole, body mass index decreased 0.29 kilograms per meter squared, and total cholesterol decreased 11.9 milligrams per deciliter.
In health center 2, HbA1c decreased 0.43 millimoles per mole, body mass index decreased by 0.08 kilograms per meter squared, and triglycerides decreased by 22.50 milligrams per deciliter.
Total cholesterol of 3.62 milligrams per deciliter in health center 1 was the only improvement tied to CHW contact.
Although patients’ chronic disease indicators consistently improved, between-group models provided no additional evidence of impact. The findings suggest that as EHR continue to evolve, a clearer picture of CHW contributions may prove moving forward.
“Community Health Worker Impact on Chronic Disease Outcomes Within Primary Care Examined Using Electronic Health Records” was published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2017.