An exploration of the mechanism by which community health workers bring health gain to service users in England

Taylor, Rebecca Kate (2016). An exploration of the mechanism by which community health workers bring health gain to service users in England. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis presents the findings of a qualitative exploration of how Community Health Workers (CHWs) conceptualise their role in delivering health improvement.

The characteristics of CHWs described in the literature, and their role in health improvement, are examined critically. Interview data from 27 CHWs and 15 others across four services is used to explore the health improvement mechanism from the perspective of CHWs. Theory from a range of disciplines is used to explain it.

The literature provides incomplete accounts of the mechanism. The empirical work suggests that, in the services sampled, the mechanism may predominantly be one of social support (informational, instrumental, appraisal and emotional support). Three distinct and essential processes emerge (needs assessment, effective service provision, and client engagement). The analysis reports how who CHWs are, and what they do, appear to be important influences on the social support processes, and that CHWs may be better at delivering this kind of support than traditional professional workers, particularly to socially excluded individuals.

Overall, this work suggests that CHWs may perform a unique role, as experts in social support. The proposed mechanism can be used to inform service design and evaluation, to maximise CHWs’ potential to deliver effective social support.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Medical & Dental Sciences
School or Department: School of Health and Population Studies, Department of Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatictics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine


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