The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Center for Reducing Health Disparities is conducting the first statewide assessment of the status quo of Nebraska’s community health workforce.

The study, commissioned by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, will review some of the health issues addressed by health workers in their routine work, as well as the challenges and barriers they face, according to a press release from UNMC.

It also will explore demographic and socioeconomic aspects of these positions along with training needs, working relationships and environmental concerns.

It also will look at the financing of the services provided by community health workers and how the services have been integrated into the local health care system to address health disparities with a focus on maternal and child health.

For this purpose, the study team plans to interview employers of community health workers across the state to get their perspectives.

Community health workers are the frontline public health workers.

They are trusted members of the community, of which they have a close understanding.

This trusting relationship enables community health workers to serve as a liaison between health services and the community to facilitate access to health care and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery in underserved communities, according to a press release.

A community health worker also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, patient navigation, social support and advocacy.

To participate in the study, community health workers who are over the age of 19 and work in Nebraska, can complete a survey or email Jessica Ern at UNMC.

Questions about the survey can be addressed by principal investigator Dr. Dejun Su, director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities, at 402-552-2359, or co-PI Dr. Drissa Toure, community health program manager, at 402-559-9661.

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