A mixed methods evaluation of the feasibility, acceptability, and impact of a pilot project ECHO for community health workers (CHWs)
Despite the positive effects of community health workers (CHWs) on addressing social determinants of health, improving patient health outcomes, and decreasing overall healthcare costs, there is a lack of standardization in training and certifying this workforce, resulting in different approaches to integrating this role into medical home models. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate the application of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) in enhancing CHWs’ capacity to address health and social issues of vulnerable populations.
An explanatory sequential mixed methods design was applied in which all participants (N = 49) completed pre (January 2019) and post (July 2019) quantitative online surveys measuring changes in self-efficacy, behavior change intent, and knowledge. Virtual focus groups were conducted with a subset of participants (n = 20) in July 2019 to assess the feasibility, acceptability, and impact of Project ECHO.
There was a statistically significant difference of + 0.453 in the composite self-efficacy mean score pre- to post-series. For every 1 additional Project ECHO CHW session attended, there was a .05 improvement in participants’ self-efficacy to perform CHW-related job duties and address social determinants of health (SDOH). Four major themes emerged from the qualitative focus group data: value in learning from other participants’ caseloads, CHW-care team integration, availability of training and resources, and shared decision-making with patients.
This evaluation suggests that ECHO is a viable means of increasing access to training resources for CHWs. Future studies on the ECHO model as a means of educating and broadening implementation of CHWs are warranted. Programs such as Project ECHO can support CHWs by providing continuing education opportunities, as well as standardizing training content across large geographic areas.
Damian, A.J., Robinson, S., Manzoor, F. et al. A mixed methods evaluation of the feasibility, acceptability, and impact of a pilot project ECHO for community health workers (CHWs). Pilot Feasibility Stud 6, 132 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40814-020-00678-y