Objectives: We explored the benefits of using community health worker (CHW) encounter forms to collect data on patient interactions and assessed the effectiveness of these forms in guiding and directing interactions.
Methods: A 1-page standardized encounter form was developed to document topics discussed during visits with diabetes patients. A portion of the form was designed to be used as a script to guide the interaction and assist patients in setting appropriate self-management goals. Data were also collected via CHW work logs and interviews with CHWs and their supervisors to validate findings.
Results: Data were collected for 1198 interactions with 540 patients at 6 community health centers. Self-management goals were set during 62% of encounters. With respect to the most recent self-management goal set, patients who had set a challenging goal were more likely to be in the action stage of change than in other stages. Work logs revealed that CHWs engaged in a number of activities not involving direct patient interactions and thus not captured on encounter forms.
Conclusions: Evaluating and monitoring CHWs' daily activities has been challenging. Encounter forms have great potential for documenting the work of CHWs with patients.