University of Georgia
Degree: Master of Arts in Health Promotion and Behaviour
The proposed research will examine the role of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in crucial decision-making for colorectal cancer screening among African American adults. Since at least the year 2000, I have been involved in the advancement of CHWs as essential members of the healthcare team, particularly for underserved populations. In my role as Program Manager in our 10-year partnership (NCI-U54) with University of Alabama/Birmingham and Tuskegee University, CHWs have been central to reducing barriers, increasing health literacy, and connecting medical and social resources in primarily medically underserved African Americans. During this period, we were fortunate to have formed a Georgia Community Health Worker Network (GA_CHWN), comprised of CHW stakeholders for all disease areas, and the Cancer Patient Navigators of Georgia (CPNG), under the aegis of the Georgia Society of Clinical Oncologists. We developed a training curriculum in partnership with the southeast region of the American Cancer Society and the Georgia Division of Public Health (2002), and have trained over 400 CHWs/Patient Navigators across the state. I participated in a research project that demonstrated that CHWs could increase compliance among economically disadvantaged women in a city hospital, who had received an abnormal mammogram. I currently supervise three CHWs who deliver a community-based evidence-based education intervention to increase colorectal cancer (in partnership with the County Health Department and senior centers around the County) and an initiative called BRIDGES in collaboration with the southeast region of ACS. On the local, state, and national level, I continue to be active in achieving the formal recognition of CHWs as part of the healthcare workforce and the integration into the healthcare team to increase quality of care, decrease costs, and improve the patient outcomes for those who have historically been marginalized in healthcare. This project will contribute to the much-needed objective literature on the effectiveness of CHWs.