Background

Community health workers (CHWs) are trusted frontline health workers who often live in or come from the communities they serve. These community connections allow CHWs to provide support for hard-to-engage populations by liaising between patients and providers, in addition to advocating for patients’ needs. Prior studies emphasize the importance of these providers in improving physical health outcomes and lowering healthcare costs for their patients, yet there is limited research on the roles CHWs fill in behavioral health care. The increasing investment and implementation of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model across the country presents opportunities to utilize CHWs to broaden behavioral health service availability.

Study Aims/Research Questions

The aim of this study is to understand how CCBHCs in the 10 demonstration states of Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Kentucky may employ CHWs to assist in connecting patients with integrated physical and behavioral services. For locations at which CCBHCs currently employ CHWs, this study will describe the populations they serve, services they provide, and how their role impacts demand for behavioral health services (e.g., whether behavioral health specialists are able to increase caseloads when CHWs are part of care teams). Study findings may illuminate opportunities to employ CHWs in behavioral health settings and funding mechanisms for integrating CHWs into behavioral health care teams.

  • To what extent are CCBHCs currently employing and utilizing CHWs?
  • How could employing CHWs impact the reach of CCBHCs and their behavioral health workforce?

Findings

Coming summer 2022.

Publications

Coming summer 2022.

Researchers

Nancy Baum, PhD, MHS
Erica Matti, MPH