Stakeholder Perspectives on the Use of Community Health Workers to Improve Palliative Care Use by African Americans with Cancer

Fabian M. Johnston, Joseph H. Neiman, Lauren E. Parmley, Alison Conca-Cheng, Karen M. Freund, Thomas W. Concannon, Thomas J. Smith, Lisa A. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: African Americans in the United States have worse end-of-life care and cancer outcomes than whites. Palliative care may improve this disparity. Community Health Workers may provide a means to improve palliative care disparities. Methods: Semistructured in-depth interviews (five) and stakeholder focus groups (four) were conducted with cancer patients, caregivers, health care administrators, oncologists, and community health workers (CHWs). Patients were recruited through snowball sampling. Three raters coded interviews independently. Data were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: Seventy-one individuals were contacted to participate with 24 stakeholders (34%) participating in individual interviews or across 4 stakeholder engagements. Eleven constructs were identified and grouped in three broader themes: "hub of the wheel," understanding palliative care, and patient-provider relationships. Participants felt that the role of a CHW should be central, bridging patients with their providers, information, and resources, including psychosocial support and advance care planning documents. They also placed an emphasis on the background of CHWs, saying individuals selected should be familiar with the history, culture, and norms of the communities from which they operate. Stakeholders reported that a CHW could activate a patient to contact their primary care physician or oncologist who may refer to or provide palliative care. Stakeholders reported that given the barriers to palliative care, a CHW could contribute to patient-centered multidisciplinary care while addressing palliative care domains with patients and families in a culturally sensitive manner. Conclusion: Based on feedback from patients, caregivers, and providers, a culturally adapted CHW intervention may improve palliative care use for African American patients with advanced malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-306
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • community health worker
  • cultural competency
  • disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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