Objectives: Current US healthcare delivery systems do not adequately address healthcare demands. Physicians are integral but rarely emphasize prevention as a primary tool to change health outcomes. Home visitation is an effective method for changing health outcomes in some populations. The Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP service-learning program assigns medical students to be members of interprofessional teams that conduct household visits to determine their healthcare needs.
Methods: We performed a prospective evaluation of 330 households randomly assigned to one of two groups: visitation from a student team (intervention group) or limited intervention (control group). The program design allowed randomly selected control households to replace intervention-group households that left the program of their own volition. All of the households were surveyed at baseline and after 1 year of participation in the study.
Results: After 1 year in the program and after adjustment for confounders, intervention group households proved more likely (P ≤ 0.05) than control households to have undergone physical examinations, blood pressure monitoring, and cervical cytology screenings. Cholesterol screenings and mammograms were borderline significant (P = 0.05 and P = 0.06, respectively).
Conclusions: This study supports the value of home visitation by interprofessional student teams as an effective way to increase the use of preventive health measures. The study underscores the important role interprofessional student teams may play in improving the health of US communities, while students concurrently learn about primary prevention and primary care.