New research from the University of Maryland School of Public Health shows that web-based training is effective for teaching peer Community Health Advisors (CHAs) to lead workshops on breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer education and early awareness. The CHA trainings are part of a community-based, faith-based research project led by Dr. Cheryl L. Holt, associate professor of behavioral and community health. Published in the American Journal of Public Health’s technological innovations issue, this research is the first to examine the use of the internet to train lay community health workers, who have little or no previous health background. Ms. Sherie Lou Z. Santos, a faculty research assistant in behavioral and community health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, served as lead author.
The research, which took place in African American churches, suggests that online training could effectively expand the number of participants and geographic area that can be reached by CHA training programs and reduce training costs.
The online training occurred during 2012-14, as part of Project HEAL: Health through Early Awareness and Learning, which is funded by the National Cancer Institute. Project HEAL, implemented in African American churches in Maryland, is designed to address health disparities, including that African Americans are 25 percent more likely to die from all cancers than white people.
As part of this implementation trial on the effectiveness of online training, CHAs viewed 13 training videos, which prepared them to deliver three workshops on early cancer detection in their churches.