BMC Primary Care is calling for submissions to our Collection on The role of community health workers in primary care.
Community health workers (CHWs) are health care professionals who provide health care services at the community level, directly engaging with the community to promote optimal health and well-being, provide basic health care services, and collaborate with health care organizations and policymakers to advise on community-level challenges. By engaging with communities, CHWs promote healthcare services that are responsive to the unique needs of different social and economic groups, age ranges, and geographical regions.
Although CHWs typically receive a lower level of education than traditional primary care providers (such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists), this community-led approach is essential for improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare inequalities, particularly in vulnerable, underrepresented, and economically disadvantaged communities where there may be significant social, economic, and geographical barriers to healthcare provision.
As such, the increased presence of trained, salaried, and supervised CHWs who are integrated into health systems, and increased CHW outreach and service provision shows promise as an effective strategy for improving primary care delivery in communities that face substantial access challenges. Recent global health crises, including Ebola and COVID-19, have highlighted the critical role of CHWs in responding to pandemics and other major health crises.
Despite the growing recognition of the importance of a community health worker-led approach, more research is needed to explore the effectiveness of CHWs for improving patient outcomes and experiences in different settings, populations, and for different health conditions in primary care. This research may help guide policymakers in the development of improved service delivery models tailored to community needs.
This Collection welcomes high-quality submissions that contribute to our understanding of the importance of CHWs in primary care, including research related to:
- Using CHWs to address stigma, barriers, and low patient engagement with primary healthcare services in different populations
- Using CHWs to address specific health conditions or regions
- The role of CHWs in preventing, identifying, and treating mental health problems
- The role of CHWs in preventing, identifying, and managing infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and COVID-19
- The collaboration between CHWs and other health care services
- Patient and healthcare provider perspectives on CHW programs
- The knowledge, attitudes, and training of CHWs, including approaches for measuring quality of care delivery
- Health care policy and implementation research aimed at developing effective strategies for implementing community health care programs, including the cost-benefits of community health care programs
- Studies reporting the scalability and sustainability of CHW programs, and studies reporting the challenges and successes of a CHW-led approach
- All research related to the above that highlights challenges and developments in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs) or where these lessons have informed CHW programs in high-income countries (HICs)
In launching this Collection, BMC Primary Care particularly welcomes research that supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including but not limited to SDG1 (No Poverty), SDG3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), SDG5 (Gender Equality), and SDG10 (Reduced Inequalities).
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