Behavioral Health, Mental Health, Substance Abuse
An Assessment of Attitudes and Beliefs Towards Community Health Worker Intervention Models at a Rural Health Clinic in Southern Maryland
(School of Public Health (UMD) Behavioral and Community Health Undergraduate Student)
Objective: The objective of this study is to determine the feasibility of implementing a community health worker intervention model at a rural health clinic in Charles, County, Maryland. Approach: The investigators conducted semi-structured interviews among a convenience sample (n=12) of administrators and CHWs at the Charles County Department of Health, along with staff members at the Western County Family Medical Center (WCFMC) in rural Southern Maryland. Lasting between 20-45 minutes, each one-on-one interview was transcribed to collect emerging codes from responses to 14 questions related to attitudes and beliefs towards CHWs and five best practice CHW models identified through a literature review. Emerging codes were evaluated using frequency distributions of key words in order to identify the most relevant CHW model for the WCFMC. Findings: Participants identified seventy-nine (79) attitudes and beliefs across thirteen (13) domains, leading to the identification of an outreach-oriented CHW intervention model as most desirable to address healthcare shortages and access barriers at the WCFMC. Conclusion: Medical providers of the WCFMC and administrators at the DOH have specific beliefs and significant favorable attitudes toward adopting an outreach-oriented CHW intervention for the WCFMC. Future studies should qualify patient interest and receptiveness toward an outreach-oriented CHW intervention to address the community’s health care needs. Public Health Significance: Background: Rural populations experience greater health disparities than their urban counterparts, partly due to shortages in healthcare professionals and barriers to healthcare access. Research is needed to identify alternative healthcare models that support rural care providers, thus mitigating the effects of the shortages and improving access to quality care. Community Health Worker (CHW) models should be evaluated for their effectiveness in bridging the gap between rural health needs and the healthcare system.