Applying the community health worker model in dermatology: a curriculum for skin cancer prevention education training

Int J Dermatol. 2017 May;56(5):567-570. doi: 10.1111/ijd.13514. Epub 2017 Mar 21.


Background: Incidence of skin cancer is rising in Hispanic populations and minorities often have more advanced disease and experience higher mortality rates. Community health worker (CHW) programs to promote primary and secondary prevention show promise for many diseases, but an adequate training program in skin cancer prevention is not documented. We present a model for CHW specialty certification in skin cancer prevention for underserved, Hispanic communities.

Methods: We designed a culturally appropriate CHW training program according to an empowerment model of education for skin cancer prevention and detection in underserved Hispanic communities. We partnered with a large nonprofit clinic in South Florida.

Results: Nineteen CHWs completed the 2-h training course. After the course, 82.4% (n = 14) strongly agreed with the statement "I feel confident I can educate others on the warning signs of melanoma." Eighty-eight percent (88.2%, n = 15) strongly agreed that they felt confident that they could educate others on the importance of sun safety. One hundred percent (n = 19) answered each question about how the sun affects the skin correctly while 84.2% (n = 16) were able to identify the "ABCDEs" of melanoma. Nearly 90% strongly agreed with "I plan to change my personal sun safety behaviors based on what I learned today".

Discussion: Our results indicate successful transfer of information and empowerment to CHWs with high levels of confidence. Disease specific "specialty certifications" are a component of effective CHW policies. An appropriate training tool for skin cancer education is an important addition to a growing list of CHW specialty certifications.

MeSH terms

  • Certification*
  • Community Health Workers / education*
  • Curriculum
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Medically Underserved Area
  • Models, Educational
  • Self Efficacy
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*