Make the Case for CHWs: 7 Return on Investment Studies

Making the case for community health workers is an uphill battle — but it is always worth the effort.

You’ve seen the data: a University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine report is one of many that show how the CHW model can reduce admissions and lead to better health outcomes for hospitalized patients and outpatient settings.

Unfortunately, too many organizations still find it difficult to make the business case for hiring, using and training community health workers. They offer excuses about the expense, or they vastly underuse their existing CHWs.

Convincing decision-makers to deploy groups of frontline health workers may not be easy, but hopefully this round-up of return on investment studies will put you a small step forward. It’s a collection of some of the best ROI studies I’ve seen on why to hire and educate people working in the CHW role.


More Soldiers in the Battle Against Tobacco

By Monique I. Cuvelier

The fight against smoking, chewing, and vaping just became a little fiercer.

From April 4-10, front-line health workers refined their health education skills via the online course Supporting Tobacco Cessation.

The course was sponsored by CHWTraining, a health care-focused division of Boston-based educational company Talance, Inc., and was produced in observance of National Public Health Week and offered at no charge. The weeklong, interactive course was facilitated by tobacco-cessation health educator Mary Etna Haac. She guided participants through practical tips and strategies they can use in their efforts to help more people quit or reduce using tobacco.

National Public Health Week logo

“[Supporting Tobacco Cessation was] very interesting,” said participant Ana Rubiano, a certified community health worker in an agricultural region of Florida who helps patients control diabetes, cancer, obesity, and other chronic illnesses and preventable diseases. “It let me learn new things to help the community. The facilitator’s communication was so good.”

Topics included a look at the biology of addiction, types of tobacco products, and the health effects of using tobacco. The program also provides common barriers to stopping and how to address those barriers through such methodologies as Stages of Change, the 5 R’s (Relevance, Risks, Rewards, Roadblocks, and Repetition), and the 5 A’s (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange). Students were given a chance to try out their new skills in interactive activities and through forum discussions with Haac and other participants.

Tobacco Case Studies screenshot

An important part of the course is the Quit Day Action Kit, a set of handouts, resources, and tools that participants take with them to use with clients and patients. It includes methods to cope with triggers and withdrawal symptoms, journals and worksheets for planning for Quit Day, and tips on how to cope with stress, slips, and relapses. The kit combines with the Tobacco Cessation Toolbox, which contains additional local resources to use on the job.

The online class, which hosted approximately 20 individuals from states including California, Maryland, Nevada, and more, is part of a catalog of courses from CHWTraining that focus on providing essential skills in changing community health outcomes. Students ranged from community health workers and case managers to registered nurses and health educators.

[This article is for publication in The Nation’s Health from APHA.]

Tobacco Cessation Barriers Flashcards

The line between using and quitting tobacco can be so narrow. Many barriers prevent people from conquering their addictions. They include anything from a high-stress environment and a simple lack of support.

Understanding and addressing tobacco cessation barriers is vital for any effective intervention, but with so many variables, it’s hard to keep track. We wanted to find a simple way to remind staff and volunteers about common barriers and the best ways to respond, so we created these Addressing Tobacco Cessation Barriers flashcards. We made these printable cards free for your team.

CHWTraining Tobacco Cessation Barriers flashcards

The cards include tips on how to address tobacco cessation barriers including:

  • Social factors
  • Stress
  • Lack of support
  • Mental health
  • Fear of failure
  • Competing priorities

Download Tobacco Cessation Barriers Cards

Let others know that these cards are available!