Three Evaluation Methods of a Community Health Advocate Program

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The title Community Health Advocate (CHA) is one of thirty or more titles used throughout the world for an indigenous outreach worker who is trusted and respected in his or her community and who serves as a bridge between peers and health professionals. In 1992, the Center for Healthy Communities in Dayton, Ohio developed a program to train as Advocates people indigenous to the communities in which they would be working. Since the first CHAs began work in January 1993, the effectiveness of the program has been evaluated from three perspectives: the Community Health Advocates, the managers directors of the community sites at which the CHAs work, and the clients with whom the CHAs work. Advocates indicated that the training program adequately prepared them for their roles and functions. They also identified systematic frustrations and barriers that made it more difficult for them to perform their job. Community site directors and community leaders indicated that the CHAs were considered a positive force in meeting client needs and facilitating independence, and were very effective in outreach and coordination of resources. A survey of CHA clients revealed an overwhelmingly positive response to the Advocate's work, validating the belief that CHAs can fill an important niche in the health care community. The three evaluation processes described in this paper helped to document the need for and the effectiveness of this program and can serve as a model for similar programs.

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