Advancing Health Equity Through Community Health Workers and Peer Providers: Mounting Evidence and Policy Recommendations

Authors
Emmett Ruff
Denisse Sanchez
Sinsi Hernández-Cancio
Eliot Fishman
Raven Gomez
Report
November 2019

Despite mounting evidence for community health workers (CHWs) and peer providers improving health outcomes, the expansion of the community-based workforce in the health care system has been limited. This report synthesizes findings from nine recent studies, funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, on outcomes associated with programs that include CHWs and peer providers on care teams. The studies summarized evaluated CHW interventions focused on patients with serious mental illness, multiple chronic conditions, and individuals with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Many of the CHW interventions demonstrated effectiveness in improving outcomes, such as increased access to preventive care, increased patient satisfaction and activation, improved quality of life, and reduced acute care utilization. The report also details policy recommendations for health care stakeholders looking to address health inequities by including CHWs and peer providers within health care delivery teams and ensuring sustainable financing for these programs. These recommendations highlight how payers and providers can use CHW and peer provider programs in serving diverse communities that are affected by health inequities, as well as to help improve patient outcomes and prevent avoidable hospital utilization during care transitions.

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Population Addressed
Adults Under 65 with Disabilities
People with Advanced Illness
Frail Older Adults
People with Multiple Chronic Conditions
People with Behavioral Health and Social Needs
Key Questions Answered
  • How can community health worker programs advance health equity?
Level of Evidence
Expert Opinion
What does this mean?