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Introduction: This study examined feasibility of a place-based community health worker (CHW) and health advocate (HA) initiative in five public housing developments selected for high chronic disease burden and described early outcomes.

Methods: This intervention was informed by a mixed-method needs assessment performed December 2014–January 2015 (representative telephone survey, n¼1,663; six focus groups, n¼55). Evaluation design was a non-randomized, controlled quasi-experiment. Intake and 3-month follow-up data were collected February–December 2015 (follow-up response rate, 93%) on 224 intervention and 176 comparison participants, and analyzed in 2016. All participants self-reported diagnoses of hypertension, diabetes, or asthma. The intervention consisted of chronic disease self-management and goal setting through six individual CHW-led health coaching sessions, instrumental support, and facilitated access to insurance/ clinical care navigation from community-based HAs. Feasibility measures included CHW service satisfaction and successful goal setting. Preliminary outcomes included clinical measures (blood pressure, BMI); disease management behaviors and self-efficacy; and preventive behaviors (physical activity).

Results: At the 3-month follow-up, nearly all intervention participants reported high satisfaction with their CHW (90%) and HA (76%). Intervention participants showed significant improvements in self-reported physical activity (p¼0.005) and, among hypertensive participants, self-reported routine blood pressure self-monitoring (p¼0.013) compared with comparison participants. No improvements were observed in self-efficacy or clinical measures at the 3-month follow-up.

Conclusions: Housing-based initiatives involving CHW and HA teams are acceptable to public housing residents and can be effectively implemented to achieve rapid improvements in physical activity and chronic disease self-management. At 3-month assessment, additional time and efforts are required to improve clinical outcomes.


This article was originally published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, available at

This is an open access article distributed under the CC-BY-NC-ND license.



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