Dr. Elva M. Arredondo, professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science in San Diego State University, Institute for Behavioral and Community Health Studies (IBACH), Carolina Lopez de la Torre, MPH, IBACH, and School of Public Health San Diego State University collaborated to implement a community health worker-led cancer prevention study. Juntos Contra el Cáncer/United Against Cancer (JUNTOS) placed community health workers (CHWs) in the front-line of care delivery and colorectal cancer education dissemination. Mr. Gabriel Lopez, one of the two CHWs in the study, shared that their work in the community led to community members being more aware about their yearly screenings and gave community members the space to feel comfortable with healthcare institutions instead of fearing conversations related to cancer. Like many other CHWs, Mr. Lopez was already part of the community he served, giving him the means to better approach the community.
“Policies that recognize the benefits of CHWs in primary and preventive care are recommended, as funding is needed to ensure sustainability of CHW involvement in care provision after individual grants and projects are completed” Ms. Jill Nery, program manager with IBACH shared. CHWs can integrate community outreach and health education in ways that providers or researchers may have otherwise struggled to. JUNTOS carefully considered the community’s needs and characteristics, from language to healthcare accessibility, and resulted in 67 percent of participants previously not up to date with colorectal cancer screenings receiving their screenings within nine months. The impact JUNTOS had on the community demonstrated the critical roles CHWs serve on preventative care.Tags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on October 25