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Rural Project Examples: Community health workers

Effective Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Regional Oral Health Pathway
Updated/reviewed November 2020
  • Need: To address the oral health needs of low-income uninsured and underinsured residents in rural Appalachia.
  • Intervention: An oral health education program was implemented in Appalachian Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
  • Results: This program has increased oral health visits in the area and has provided residents with valuable information on oral health resources and services.
Kentucky Homeplace
Updated/reviewed June 2020
  • Need: Rural Appalachian Kentucky residents have deficits in health resources and health status, including high levels of cancer, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, and diabetes.
  • Intervention: Kentucky Homeplace was created as a community health worker initiative to address the lifestyle choices, inadequate health insurance, and environmental factors that are believed to contribute to these diseases.
  • Results: From July 2001 to June 2019, over 166,464 rural residents were served. Preventive health strategies, screenings, educational services, and referrals are all offered at no charge to clients.
Community Health Worker-based Chronic Care Management Program
Added May 2020
  • Need: Improve healthcare access and decrease chronic disease disparities in rural Appalachia.
  • Intervention: A community health worker-based Chronic Care Management program demonstrated such a level of success in a single West Virginia county that it was further scaled for implementation in a multi-center, 3-state area of Appalachia.
  • Results: When analysis of the disseminated program's results also demonstrated improved health outcomes and decreased healthcare costs, sustainability became possible due to innovative financial reimbursement models.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Vivir Mejor! (Live Better!) System of Diabetes Prevention and Care
Updated/reviewed May 2020
  • Need: To address high rates of diabetes in rural Hispanic/Latino populations near the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Intervention: A comprehensive, culturally competent diabetes education program was implemented in Santa Cruz County, Arizona.
  • Results: Since 2012, this program has helped participants better manage their diabetes and increase healthy living behaviors.
Salud es Vida Cervical Cancer Education
Updated/reviewed January 2020
  • Need: Hispanic women have the highest incidence rates of cervical cancer among any ethnicity in the United States.
  • Intervention: The development of a lay health worker (promotora) curriculum that provides information on cervical cancer, HPV, and the HPV vaccine to Hispanic farmworker women living in rural southern Georgia and South Carolina.
  • Results: Significant increases in post-test scores relating to cervical cancer knowledge and increases in positive self-efficacy among promotoras.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Health Coaches for Hypertension Control
Updated/reviewed December 2019
  • Need: A cost-effective approach to help rural patients with hypertension learn to manage their condition.
  • Intervention: Community volunteers trained as health coaches provided an 8-session hypertension management training program to hypertension patients older than 60, with an optional supplemental 8 sessions focused on nutrition and physical activity.
  • Results: Just 16 weeks after the program, participants had improved systolic blood pressure, weight, and fasting glucose, greater knowledge of hypertension, and improved self-reported behaviors.
Hidalgo Medical Services – Family Support Program
Updated/reviewed June 2019
  • Need: To reduce health disparities in two rural/frontier counties in southwest New Mexico.
  • Intervention: Community health workers work with clients to help them better manage their health and promote awareness of healthy lifestyle options in the community.
  • Results: Better health outcomes for patients.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Madison Outreach and Services through Telehealth (MOST) Network
Updated/reviewed December 2018
  • Need: More mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services in rural Texas.
  • Intervention: A network was formed to bring counseling services through telehealth systems and community health workers to Brazos Valley, Texas.
  • Results: The program improved health outcomes, increased general knowledge of the impact of substance abuse, and raised awareness of services among Hispanic residents.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy One Community Health's Wellness Programs
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • Need: Difficulties obtaining healthcare access to treat diabetes and obesity for low-income and Spanish-speaking residents of Oregon and Washington's Columbia River Gorge area.
  • Intervention: A local healthcare facility developed wellness programs using bilingual community health workers to provide education and support that improves diets, physical activity, and teaches stress management.
  • Results: Many participants in the wellness programs have maintained or lost weight and have seen reductions in their cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Vegetable vouchers, cooking classes, and budgeting education has also helped patients afford healthy food.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Nurse Navigator and Recovery Specialist Outreach Program
Updated/reviewed November 2020
  • Need: To properly address and treat patients who have concurrent substance use and chronic healthcare issues.
  • Intervention: A referral system utilizes community health workers (CHWs) in a drug and alcohol treatment setting. A registered nurse helps with providers' medication-assisted treatment programs.
  • Results: This program has reduced hospital emergency visits and hospital readmissions for patients since its inception.