Community Health Workers (CHWs) are a critical part of meeting the needs of the future health care system. Often a trusted member of the community, CHWs have the advantage of helping to reduce health disparities by establishing close relationships with patients who may be difficult to reach or face barriers to receiving health care. CHWs are well-suited to act as a bridge between community members and the health system to help ensure access to care at the right time and adherence to treatment plans. Interventions with CHWs have demonstrated clinical improvements in chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, until now the utilization of CHWs in Ohio was unknown.
In December 2017, The Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center (GRC) was awarded a contract from The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to conduct the 2018 Ohio Community Health Worker Statewide Assessment funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over the course of nine months, the GRC assessment team worked closely with ODH and an advisory committee of CHW stakeholders from across Ohio to conduct a capacity assessment to gain a more accurate picture of the CHW profession and capacity in Ohio, particularly for addressing chronic disease. Through secondary data analysis, key informant interviews, focus groups, and surveys, this assessment identified how CHWs are currently being trained, certified, employed, reimbursed, and utilized in Ohio.
“From the [certified] CHW viewpoint we often feel alone in our thoughts on these issues but there is comfort in knowing that the same problems I identify with our current structure are also reflected across the entire state. As a clinical instructor for [a] CHW certification program, this report provides me with strong support for revising and enhancing our curriculum.”
Based on findings from the assessment there are currently at least 850 CHWs in Ohio. The assessment revealed that CHWs in Ohio play a vital role in addressing both chronic disease and behavioral health issues, among other conditions, work with a variety of patient populations, and practice in a variety of settings. Furthermore, CHWs are greatly valued by employers and supervisors in Ohio. Despite the many positive aspects of this profession, the assessment found that improvements can be made to CHW training, certification, employment, utilization, and funding to better sustain and advance the profession in Ohio leading to better population health outcomes for all Ohioans.
2018 CHW Statewide Assessment Documents
View the summary report of the findings and associated fact sheets here: