Journal Articles

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Health Literacy Research and Practice


BACKGROUND: Effective provider communication skills are important for patient decision-making and understanding, particularly for those with low health literacy. A gap exists in training methods and curriculum for community health workers (CHWs). Brief description of activity: Through a clinical and academic partnership, pilot training curriculum focused on patient communication skills was developed to align with CHW scope of work.

IMPLEMENTATION: The curriculum was implemented in three 2-hour training sessions over WebEx with seven state-certified CHWs. The goal was for CHWs to understand the key elements and application of active listening, Teach Back, and action planning in a clinical setting. The sessions included didactic and skills practice modules for each skill.

RESULTS: A survey was distributed to CHWs to evaluate knowledge, skills, and attitudes and reactions to training methods, instructors, and relevance using the Kirkpatrick's evaluation model (Reaction and Learning). Although CHWs agreed that they had actively participated in the training and that the instructors were well-prepared, there was less agreement that the course was relevant. CHWs reported an increase in understanding of active listening and action planning, capability of using Teach Back and providing social support, and ability to teach, whereas a decrease was reported in the capability to use action planning. When probed about training relevance, CHWs felt action listening and Teach Back were relevant, but that action planning was not relevant to their responsibilities. This gap in responsibilities was also acknowledged by the clinical leadership.

LESSONS LEARNED: The training allowed the CHWs to build on subsequent skills from previous sessions and to discuss struggles. A need for tools for integrating the skills in the clinical workflow were requested by CHWs and clinical leadership. These tools offer the opportunity to tailor future trainings on communication skills or patient scenarios. Future trainings should include CHWs to provide insight into scope of work. [


Communication, Community Health Workers, Curriculum, Health Literacy, Humans, Social Support

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