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01.12.2019 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

BMC Pulmonary Medicine 1/2019

Application of the community health worker model in adult asthma and COPD in the U.S.: a systematic review

BMC Pulmonary Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2019
Trisha M. Parekh, Carla R. Copeland, Mark T. Dransfield, Andrea Cherrington
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12890-019-0878-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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With rising medical costs, stakeholders and healthcare professionals are exploring community-based solutions to relieve the burden of chronic diseases and reduce health care spending. The community health worker (CHW) model is one example that has proven effective in improving patient outcomes globally. We sought to systematically describe the effectiveness of community health worker interventions in improving patient reported outcomes and reducing healthcare utilization in the adult asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) populations in the U.S.


Studies were included if they were a randomized control trial or involved a pre-post intervention comparison with clearly stated disease specific outcomes, targeted adult patients with asthma or COPD, and were performed in the United States. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. The review adhered to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) criteria and was registered with PROSPERO.


The search yielded 4013 potential articles, of which 47 were chosen for full-text review and 4 were chosen for inclusion; all focused on asthma and three had a comparison group. CHW interventions demonstrated improvement in asthma-related quality of life, asthma control, home trigger scores, and asthma symptom free days. There were no studies that reported COPD specific outcomes as a result of CHW interventions.


Emerging evidence suggests CHW interventions may improve some aspects of asthma related disease burden in adults, however additional studies with consistent outcome measures are needed to confirm their effectiveness. Further research is also warranted to evaluate the use of community health workers in the COPD population.
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