A Job Task Analysis for Community Health Workers

Coordinated by the Community Health Works of San Francisco Facilitated by the DACUM 24

The Community Health Works of San Francisco

Department of Health Education

San Francisco State University

1600 Holloway Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94132-4161

Phone: (415) 338-3034

FAX: (415) 338-0561

E-Mail: [email protected] 1996

The Community Health Training and Development Center (formerly The Community Health Worker Training Program) began in 1992 after a series of community conferences pinpointed the need for an educational program for grassroots Community Health Workers (CHWs). At that time, San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco formed a partnership to establish the first college sponsored training program for CHWs in the United States. In 1992 we published a statewide systematic survey of 1500 CHWs and 200 major employers further specifying training needs, and in 1996 a regional survey of the San Francisco Bay Area. After “an extremely competitive nationwide search” carried out by MPR Associates, we were recognized as one of the “15 most innovative and promising health employment training programs in the country” and featured in a report to the Annie E. Casey Foundation by Seedco.

First-level health professionals work under some 35 titles. These titles as catalogued by the Centers for Disease Control include Social Services Coordinator, Community Health Outreach Worker (CHOW), Public Health Aide, Case Manager and Community Health Specialist, while others have titles based on their topical area of specialty, e.g. Drug and Alcohol Counselor and Nutrition Assistant.

In the spring of 1996, a panel of twelve high-performing Community Health Workers (CHWs) or Community Health Advisors (CHAs) gathered to participate in a two-day workshop at San Francisco State University. The purpose of this workshop was to identify the main competencies that CHWs/CHAs perform on a daily basis. The Spokane Community College DACUM Resource Center facilitated the workshop. DACUM is an acronym for Develop a Curriculum. The Center has carried out job task analyses for over 200 occupations.

Such a job task analysis provides a framework for a training curriculum that is up-to-date and based on the realities of the practice setting. This analysis is a step in developing a competency based training curriculum which will result in a Standards of Practice Manual including job duties and standards indicating when the task is being performed at a mastery level.

Vickie Quijano

Curriculum Specialist


Date: March 29 and 30, 1996

Coordinator: Vickie Quijano, Curriculum Specialist, San Francisco State University

Facilitator: Dr. Robert S. Clark, Spokane Community College

Recorder: Gloria Garner, Spokane Community College

Panel Members:

Eliana Adler, St. Luke’s Women’s Clinic

Sharrie Arcenaux, Bay Area Urban League

Helen Casaclang, Asian Perinatal Advocates

Lisa Clayton, Berkeley Primary Care Access Clinic

Tanzania Edwards, Berkeley Health and Human Services

Diane Gatewood, Family Recovery Project

Rey Macawile, Comprehensive Outreach Project for Asian Substance Abusers

Rachel McLean, Project SAFE

Ana Celia Montenegro, San Francisco, Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

Carla R. Roberts, Homeless Prenatal Program

Jason C. Stanford, Alameda County Health Department

Beverly Thompson, Alameda County Health Department


The Community Health Works of San Franciso is funded in part by the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) U.S. Department of Education, Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act, the Bernard Osher Foundation, and the Chancellor’s Office of the California Community College System.


Overview of Competencies

  1. Client Interviewing/Intake

1.Begin the Interview

  1. Discuss Policy and Procedures
  2. Practice Communication Techniques
  3. Assess Client Needs
  1. Client Orientation
  1. Discuss Agency Services
  2. Explain Agency Policy and Procedures
  1. Coordinating Client Care
  1. Keep a Client File
  2. Develop a Plan of Care
  3. Track Clients
  1. Document and Report Client Information
  1. Document Client Information
  2. Report Client Information
  1. Provide Referral Services
  1. Give Referrals
  2. Maintain Referrals
  1. Provide Health Information
  1. Provide Client with Health Information
  2. Assist in Health Service Planning and Development
  1. Community Health Education
  1. Planning, Implementation and Evaluation
  2. Working in Groups
  3. Community Outreach
  4. Community Organizing


  1. Client Interviewing/Intake

A1 Beginning the Interview

Preview client information

Introduce self to the client

Welcome the client/establish rapport

Establish a comfortable and quiet interviewing environment

Identify and address language barriers

Explain the purpose and process of the interview

A2 Discuss Policy and Procedures

Explain confidentiality policy and exceptions

Advise clients of legal rights/immigrant policy

Obtain a signed release/waiver from client

Assist client in filling out forms and paperwork

A3 Practice Communication Techniques

Use appropriate eye contact and body language

Use plain language instead of jargon

Use open-ended questions

Use active listening skills

Verify what you heard to the client

Obtain a translator, if needed

A4 Client Needs Assessment

Determine, evaluate and prioritize needs with the client

Clarify client needs and concerns by paraphrasing

Determine client eligibility for services

Seek consultation from supervisor, if needed

Inform client about what will happen next


  1. Client Orientation

B1 Discuss Agency Services

Explain services the agency offers

Explain agency schedule of services (i.e., specific clinic days)

Inform client about what to expect during agency visits

Give the client agency resources, handouts and pamphlets

Explain managed care and utilization of the system in non technical language

Explain roles of health team members

B2 Explain Agency Policies and Procedures

Take client on a tour of the agency

Explain appointment protocol: cancellation policy, hours, after hours

Explain caregiver team approach

Explain emergency procedures

  1. Coordinating Client Care

C1 Keep a Client File

Set up a client file using agency format

Document client history/information/progress

Give the client agency resources, handouts and pamphlets

Follow established agency legal guidelines

Conduct case presentations in staff meetings

Store client files securely

C2 Develop a Plan of Care

Create a treatment plan with the client

Discharge client upon termination

C3 Track Clients

Make and keep appointments with clients

Make follow up contact with the client based on agency policy

Review treatment to date

Visit client at other sites: home, shelter, hospital, jail

Refer client to other services


  1. Document and Report Client Information


D1 Document Client Information

Explain to the client what you are documenting

Explain how the information will be used

Record client history

Write general notes for self

Follow established charting protocols: date, sign, initial

D2 Report Client Information

Review cases with supervisors

Give case presentations

Write reports

Explain reporting protocols

  1. Provide Referral Services


E1 Give Referrals

Explain the purpose and procedures of referrals

Explain referrals and how they will benefit the client

Explain detailed information about the referral agency

Identify and address possible client barriers to accessing referrals

Call referral agency to advocate for client access and track access

E2 Maintain Referrals

Develop and maintain a community resource/referral book

Establish and maintain contact with referral agencies and key contacts

Assess and evaluate referral information



  1. Provide Health Information


F1 Provide Client with Health Information

Provide health advising: routine/low-risk situations

Perform health presentations and demonstrations

Distribute informational handouts and pamphlets

Identify myths and misconceptions

Discuss effective ways to address myths and misconceptions

Assist client with personal issues: goal setting, empowerment

F2 Assist in Health Service Planning and Development

Develop or obtain literacy-appropriate educational materials

Demonstrate general knowledge about health issues

  1. Community Health Education


G1 Planning, Implementation and Evaluation

Conduct needs assessments

Participate in program planning, implementation and evaluation

Administer pre- and post-test evaluations

Determine target populations

Stay current with health issues and statistics

G2 Working in Groups

Plan and give presentations

Facilitate and participate in group process

G3 Community Outreach

Participate in the outreach process

Plan and participate in health workshops/fairs

Distribute educational materials

Work on crisis hotlines

G4 Community Organizing

Initiate and participate in community events/health fairs

Recruit and work with volunteers

Act as a liaison between community leaders and members

Use the media for community announcements

Build and organize networks

Develop written materials for community

fn: Final DACUM/Standards of Practice disk/vq

YES WE CAN Asthma Toolkit

No Longer Available

Everything you need to set up a medical/social team program for

prevention-oriented children’s asthma care

All the tools and training materials needed to start a best practice asthma

management program in a community health center or public health clinic



  • YWC Program Implementation Manual
  • YWC Clinical Care Manager Manual
  • YWC Community Health Worker Manual
  • Step-by-step care pathways and protocols
  • Additional tools and materials


YWC Toolkit Funders: The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente,

Regional Health Occupations Resource Center


Community Health Works
of San Francisco
Of all the
forms of
in health is the
most shocking
and inhumane.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
ounded in 1992, Community Health Works of San Francisco is a nationally recognized center
for innovation in community health. We focus on public health and primary care for lowincome and immigrant communities. Two intertwined goals guide our work: to eliminate
health inequalities, and to diversify the public health and primary care workforce.
We are based in the California State University and Community College systems, two of the largest
systems of higher education in the world. Their 131 campuses provide public higher education to every
region and city in California, the most diverse state in the country. Together they prepare the great
majority of health professionals from communities of color. Our home base in the state universities
and community colleges holds great potential to be an engine for change in health.
Linking colleges and universities
with communities to
eliminate health inequalities
Education ■ Training
Applied Research ■ Advocacy in
Community Health
What We Do
We have developed innovative
educational certificates and model
prevention and disease
management programs in
public health priority areas
such as drug and alcohol
addiction and asthma. We
have a decade-long track
record of piloting new
programs and making them
permanent. This brings
long-term benefits to
students, community members,
and health providers.
Our programs cultivate a diverse new
generation of program and policy leaders,
community leaders, and faculty in
community health.
In addition to skills training, we believe
that all health professionals need a broad
understanding of health disparities and the
crisis facing the US health system.
This is the basis for a
lifelong commitment to
community service and
advocacy for system
change, an ethic at the
foundation of all our
Through publications, video teleconferences, distance learning, train-thetrainer sessions, and networking, we share
promising new programs
with state and national
audiences. For example,
we worked with Kaiser
Permanente and the
Regional Health Occupations Resource Centers
to host a videoconference
on health care interpreters
for community colleges.
We also worked with partners nationally
to develop the YES WE CAN Toolkit
for prevention-oriented team care of
children’s asthma.
Community Health Works serves as a
two-way bridge between communities and
researchers. Working side by side with
community partners we translate research
advances into practical methods that
communities can put to immediate use.
Our projects are built on collaborations
with community-based organizations,
public health departments, employers,
and organizations such as the Centers
for Disease Control, the San Francisco
Community Clinic Consortium, the
California Conference of Public Health
Officers, and Kaiser Permanente.
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health
and well-being of themselves and of their family, including food,
clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services….
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Our Goals
“Health disparities” are inequalities in
health associated with ethnicity/race,
gender, poverty, geography, occupation,
housing status, or sexual orientation.
These disparities are preventable.
We work to improve access to quality
healthcare and to address the unequal
conditions that are the root causes of
health inequality.
People of color are the new
majority in California and
constitute 30% of the population
of the US. One-fourth to onethird of Latino and Asian/Pacific
Islander households in California
are linguistically isolated. Yet the
leadership and faculty of the health
workforce remain largely monolingual
and white.
We have a longstanding commitment to diversifying
the public and private health workforce at all levels. Four
out of five graduates of our CHW Certificate have been low-income people of color.
Virtually all graduates work in medically underserved communities. Our Welcome
Back program offers leadership and policy studies to internationally trained health
■ Community Health Worker Certificate,
the first college credit CHW program in
the US. Combines performance based and
popular education approaches.
■ State and national dissemination of the
CHW Certificate.
■ The Health Train university transfer
program. Encourages transfer from
community college to California State
■ Welcome Back: International Health
Worker Assistance Center. Reintegrates
internationally prepared health
professionals back into the health
workforce, and links them with immigrant
communities in need of linguistically and
culturally competent health professionals.
■ YES WE CAN (YWC): A medical/social
team model for chronic disease management. Relies on community health
workers to foster prevention-oriented
self management.
■ Drug and Alcohol Studies Certificate,
geared to the assets and needs of urban
low-income communities. A public health
approach to addiction.
■ San Francisco Bay Area Regional Health
Occupations Resource Center (RHORC).
Fosters quality education and services in
community colleges that develop the
health workforce.
■ Community Action to Fight Asthma
(CAFA). State coordinating office of an
initiative to reduce environmental causes
of asthma in children, on behalf of The
California Endowment.
■ Received three national and two state
awards for innovation.
■ Sister programs: HIV/STD Prevention
Education Certificate; Health Care
Interpreter Certificate; Urban Health
MPH Program.
Home Institutions
Department of Health Education Health Science Department
Department of Health Education
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco CA 94132-4161
Telephone: (415) 338-3034
Fax: (415) 338-7948 ■ E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.communityhealthworks.org
■ The California Endowment
■ The US Department of Education, Fund for the
Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE)
■ California Community Colleges, Chancellor’s Office,
Educational Services and Economic Development
Network (Ed>Net)
■ Kaiser Permanente
■ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
■ The Bernard Osher Foundation
■ The Carl Perkins Vocational and Applied
Technology Education Act
■ The California Office of Statewide Health Planning and
Development (OSHPD)
■ Blue Cross of California Medi-Cal Program
Photos: Scott Braley, Rachel Agrin;
Balance symbol: Tondo Originals; Graphic design: Lisa Roth
San Francisco State University (Administrative Office)
City College of San Francisco, Ocean Campus (Certificate Programs)
City College of San Francisco, John Adams Campus (Welcome Back)
East Bay Office in Berkeley (Training and Publications)
California State Building, Oakland (CAFA)

The Yes We Can Urban Asthma Partnership: A Medical/Social Model for Childhood Asthma Management

Journal of Asthma, 43:667–673, 2006
Copyright !C 2006 Informa Healthcare
ISSN: 0277-0903 print / 1532-4303 online
DOI: 10.1080/02770900600925288
The Yes We Can Urban Asthma Partnership: A Medical/Social Model
for Childhood Asthma Management
Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA 2
Health Education and Community Health Studies Department, City College of San Francisco; Yes We Can Urban Asthma Partnership,
San Francisco, California, USA 3
Department of Health Education, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA
Pediatric asthma programs have struggled to integrate children’s medical and social needs. We developed and piloted an integrated team model for
asthma care for low-income children through the Yes We Can Urban Asthma Partnership. Program evaluation demonstrated increases in prescribing
controller medications (p < 0.05), use of action plans (p < 0.001), and the use of mattress covers (p < 0.001); and decrease in asthma symptoms
(p < 0.01). Additional changes occurred within the local system of asthma care to support ongoing efforts to improve asthma management. We
conclude that pediatric asthma programs can effectively target the social and medical needs of children in a sustainable manner.
Keywords health disparities, asthma, underserved children, chronic disease management, community health workers
Asthma is the most prevalent chronic disease among children. According to 2002 data, 9 million American children
(12% of all children) have asthma, 4 million of whom have
experienced an attack in the past 12 months (1, 2). Economic
and racial disparitiesin the prevalence and severity of asthma
are well documented, with low-income and minority children
more likely to be diagnosed with the disease (1). Even after
controlling for this higher disease burden, minorities and the
poor aremore likely to receive care in emergency departments
and require hospitalization for asthma (3–8). Further, they are
less likely to receive appropriate therapy to prevent exacerbations (4, 5, 7, 9, 10). This trend is especially marked in the
inner city, where minority and economically disadvantaged
children are exposed to other asthma-associated factors such
as poor housing conditions, environmental tobacco smoke,
crowding, air pollution, and other airborne allergens (11).
Asthma, like other chronic conditions, requires regular
medical assessment and ongoing self-management. Unfortunately, the combination of suboptimal medical care with social and environmental challenges contributes to poorly controlled childhood asthma. This has negative consequences on
children’s schooling and parents’ work attendance. This article provides background on prior attempts to control childhood asthma and introduces the Yes We Can program, addressing some of the medical and social issues we judge to
be important for optimizing childhood asthma management.
We also report on the pilot phase of this program’s implementation and its impact on our community.
∗Corresponding author: Shannon M. Thyne, Department of Pediatrics,
San Francisco General Hospital, 1001 Potrero Avenue, MS6E, San Francisco, CA 94110; E-mail: [email protected]
Summary of Prior Interventions
Interventions for asthma can be classified into three categories: (1) those that rely on a medical model (2), those that
rely on a social model, and (3) those that attempt to incorporate both. Table 1 contrasts the medical and social models of
asthma management. In general, the medical model of care
targets practitioner knowledge and behavior, whereas the social model works to improve the self-management skills and
social and physical environment of the patient and family.
Some interventions have approached asthma care with the
goal of improving the medical model, a natural target given
practitioners’ poor adherence to national guidelines (7, 12–
14). Programsinclude intensivemedical casemanagement by
nurse practitioners(15), and single-session clinician trainings
(16, 17). These programs have shown some success, although
the duration of benefit from these interventions is mixed
Other interventions have targeted the self-management
skills and social environments of children. For many children with asthma, the home, school, and neighborhood are
difficult environments to support adherence to medical recommendations (21) and implementation of environmental
controls. Environmental triggers are known contributors to
asthma morbidity (4, 5, 11, 22, 23). Reducing or removing
triggers, while difficult (24, 25), has achieved positive results
(26–35). Most encouraging is a multi-site recent evaluation
of the impact of community health workers who visited the
homes of children with asthma to address environmental exposures. This intervention resulted in a significant reduction
in asthma symptoms and urgent health care visits among children receiving these services (36).
Interventions combining both medical and social models
promise to have the largest impact for childhood asthma. Not
surprisingly, comprehensive interventions have been difficult
668 S. M. THYNE ET AL.
TABLE 1.—Comparison of medical and social models of asthma management.
Component of intervention Medical model Social model
Formulation of principal barrier to
asthma control
Practitioners do not correctly diagnose asthma or prescribe appropriate pharmacotherapy
Social stressors and environmental triggers exacerbate the
underlying disease
Location of intervention Hospital or clinic Home or community
Focus of intervention Appropriate medications Family empowerment and environmental improvements
Care providers Usually medically trained practitioners (physicians or
nurse practitioners)
Usually less-intensively trained practitioners (social
workers, health workers, or nurses)
Level of technology Often high (spirometry, computerized records, etc.) Usually low Behavioral modification efforts Sometimes Often
Disease management programs Sometimes Rarely
Patient education Variable level Variable level
Inclusion of primary care clinician Sometimes Rarely
Reinforcement of the other model Rarely Frequently
to implement and evaluate,with only a fewexamplesin the literature (20, 37–42). Of note, we are unaware of any programs
that work to improve both the quality of direct medical care
and the social supports for children with asthma. The following is a description of our efforts to address both social
and medical components of asthma care for children through
the Yes We Can Urban Asthma Partnership. Additionally, we
present the results of the Yes We Can pilot program, implemented in an urban pediatric clinic.
In 1997,Community HealthWorks, a programof San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco,
convened the Yes We Can Urban Asthma Partnership in collaboration with 17 local medical, governmental, and social
service organizations. The goal of Yes We Can was to address
disparities in pediatric asthma care in San Francisco, a city
with asthma rates and racial disparities similar to those in
other urban areas of the United States (43–45). Yes We Can
is a medical/social care model for clinic-based, communityfocused, team-oriented pediatric asthma management. The
development, demonstration, and evaluation of this project
took place at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), and
the program was later expanded to two community clinics.
Developed using the Chronic Care Model (46), Yes We Can
was designed to demonstrate a real-world approach to asthma
care that could yield improved health outcomes and could be
expanded with relatively modest funding.
Yes We Can had four specific goals:
1. to develop a medical/social team model for asthma care of
low-income children;
2. to augment the model’s impact through system and policy
change, such as improved access to medications, health
insurance, and environmental control measures;
3. to develop and disseminate materials to a national audience; and
4. to apply the model to other chronic diseases.
A distinguishing feature of this medical/social model isthe
use of community health workers. Community health workers are community members who have undergone training
in health education and social support, in this case through
an associate level certificate program at City College of San
Francisco (47). They provide culturally sensitive, focused
health education and social support to patients and families
in conjunction with and as a supplement to clinical care. Incorporation of community health workers into the care of
asthmatic children aims not only to add this direct family
support but also (and equally) to improve the medical care
provided by clinicians who get regular feedback about how
the medical regimen is working in the family’s daily life.
San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH)—the universityaffiliated, publicly funded hospital for the city—had an existing pediatric asthma clinic that served as the implementation
site for Yes We Can. Children with unstable asthma were
referred by community providers, public health nurses, and
schools. Additionally, children seen for acute asthma visits
at sites within our health network were recruited into the program through an aggressive outreach campaign by Yes We
Can staff.
Yes We Can at SFGH included three components:
1. medical evaluations (conducted by clinic physicians, and
nurse practitioners): medical assessment, spirometry, allergy skin testing, and provision of an action plan;
2. social interventions (conducted by community health
workers during clinic visits and at separate home visits):
review of the asthma care or “action” plan, discussion of
environmental triggers and appropriate medication use,
and an assessment of other stressors such as housing and
health insurance; and
3. integrated efforts (performed by clinicians and community health workers): patient education,socialsupport, and
community outreach.
Typically, a patient with unstable persistent asthma received three to five asthma clinic visits, interspersed with two
to three home visits. Clinicians and community health workers participated in frequent case conferences, where relevant
medical and social information was reviewed and an asthma
care plan was created. Feedback, including the asthma care
plan, was then given to referring primary care providers after
each patient encounter. An overview of the program can be
found in Figure 1.
At each asthma clinic visit, patient demographics, as well
as medical history and educational interventions, were entered into a database developed by clinic staff. Additionally, community health workers collected information during
home visits to track educational and environmental interventions.
In 2002, records were reviewed to gather pre- and postintervention data related to the pilot program. The following
evaluation includes a convenience sample of patients who
met these selection criteria: (1) two or more asthma clinic
visits within a 12-month period and (2) at least one asthma
FIGURE 1.—The Yes We Can integrated medical/social model for childhood asthma care.
clinic visit after an initial home visit. When two siblings were
receiving care, only the sibling who first entered the program
was included. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained from the University of California, San Francisco, for
this evaluation.
Outcome measures for this evaluation included prescription of controller medications, creation of asthma action
plans by asthma clinic staff, and change in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) over the course of
enrollment. Prescription of a controller medication was
determined to occur if the patient was diagnosed with “persistent asthma” in the database and was prescribed a daily
asthma controller medication (inhaled corticosteroid). Creation of an action plan was determined to occur if the
670 S. M. THYNE ET AL.
patient had an action plan in the database after the first clinic
In addition, several patient-reported outcomes were monitored: exposures to tobacco and pets, use of mattress and
pillow covers, change in day and nighttime symptoms, and
activity impairment. For environmental questions, an answer
of “yes” to the following questions: “Are there any pets in
your home?” “Are there any smokers in your home?” and
“Do you have mattress and/or pillow covers on your bed?”
was considered a positive response in our database query.
For questions regarding symptoms, we queried a database
drawn from intake interviews, using data points such as the
number of days reported for daytime symptoms, nighttime
symptoms, and activity impairment in the 2 weeks before
the asthma clinic visit. Responses in these patient-reported
areas were compared between the first and last visits.
Pulmonary function testing was attempted using a KoKo
Spirometer (Louisville, CO), using standardized norms for
age and race, at all visits for patients greater than 4 years
of age. For those who were able to comply with testing at
the first and last visits, the database values for FEV1 were
compared from the first to the last visits.
Statistical analysis, using pre- and post-measures, was
done using the Wilcoxon Signed Rank test.
Patient Outcomes
One hundred and two new asthma clinic patients met the
criteria outlined above during the study period (1999-2001).
The parents of 65 ofthese children agreed to at least one home
visit for their child; these children were used as the convenience sample. Information on the reason for refusal was not
collected. Although specific outcome data was not collected
on those patients who refused home visits, the demographics
of the entire eligible population did not differ from that of
the home visit group (see Table 2). Patients averaged four
clinic visits and were received follow-up for an average of
6.6 months, and 60% received the goal of two or more home
TABLE 3.—Outcomes from the Yes We Can medical/social model (average follow-up period 6.6 months).
No. of First clinic After first At last
patients (n) interview clinic visit clinic visit p value
Medical interventions
Patient prescribed controller medication if diagnosis is persistent asthma 65 44% 100% — <0.01
Patient has Asthma Action Plan 65 <1% 100% — <0.001
Social/environmental interventions
Patient reports exposed to tobacco smoke 65 36.5% — 17% =0.5 NS
Patient reports pets in the home 65 11.5% — 5.7% =0.7 NS
Patient reports using bed covers 65 5.7% — 94.3% <0.001
Patient outcomes
Days with asthma symptoms in the past 2 weeks 65 5.1
95% CI
— 2.8
95% CI
Nights with asthma symptoms during the past 2 weeks 65 5.0
95% CI
— 2.7
95% CI
Days with activity impairment in the last 2 weeks 65 4.1
95% CI
— 2.5
95% CI
FEV1 (% predicted for age and ethnicity) for children >4 years of age 42 82
95% CI
— 91
95% CI
=0.27 NS
TABLE 2.— Baseline patient demographics for home visit and asthma clinic
Yes We Can patients Asthma clinic total patient
(n = 65) population (n = 102)
n Percent Percent
Ethnicity (self-reported)
Latino 28 43 43
African American 28 43 40
Asian American 7 11 11
White/other 2 3 7
Male 43 66 57
Female 22 33 43
Age Mean 7.3 years – Mean 6.2 years
0–4 24 37 47
5–11 33 51 42
12+ 8 12 11
Asthma severity
Intermittent 11 17 19
Persistent 54 83 81
visits. Of note, 10 patients who had agreed to home visits
never received them despite outreach efforts. Data analysis
was conducted on all patients who initially agreed to home
visits based on the intention to treat.
Table 3 summarizes observations from the Yes We Can
demonstration project. Following the first clinic visit, prescription of controller medications and creation of an asthma
action plan (p < 0.001) were significantly increased (p <
0.01 and p < 0.001, respectively). Additionally, patients reported a significant increase in the use of mattress and pillow
covers in the home (p < 0.001). Exposure to smoke and pets
in the home did not significantly change but trended toward
Days with asthma symptoms decreased significantly (5.1
to 2.8), as did the number of nights with symptoms (5.0
to 2.7). Activity impairment showed a similar improvement
(p < 0.01 for all measures). Among children over 4 years
of age who were able to complete spirometry, FEV1 values
did not change significantly, although they trended toward
Measuring Success in Terms of the Yes We Can Goals
The success of Yes WeCan should also be measured against
the four goals initially established by the Partnership.
1. To develop a medical/social team model for preventionoriented asthma care for low-income children. Yes We Can
created a medical/social model thatsuccessfully targeted and
improved two areas ofsystemic weaknessin pediatric asthma
care: the lack of appropriate medical therapy for children with
asthma and the multiple environmental and social factorsthat
complicate asthma self-management. We defined success in
the area of appropriate medical therapy as changes in six areas: (1) controller medication, (2) use of an action plan, (3)
decrease in daytime asthma symptoms, (4) decrease in nighttime asthma symptoms (5), decrease in activity impairment,
and (6) improvement in FEV1. We defined successin the area
of social interventions as changes in three areas: (1) report of
decreased exposure to tobacco smoke in the home, (2) report
of decreased exposure to pets in the home, and (3) report of
increased use of mattress and pillow covers. For five of the six
medical measures and one of the three social/environmental
goals, there was significant change.
While this multidisciplinary model’s evaluation hasshown
improvement in several outcomes, the clinicwas developed as
a site of medical/social care rather than as an extension of an
academic research laboratory. At present, we are undertaking
more rigorous evaluation of thisintervention, including additional patient and provider outcomes, provider effectiveness
and cost-effectiveness.
2. To augment the model’s impact through system and policy change. The Yes We Can demonstration catalyzed the
development of new systems and local policies. For example, the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the
local Medicaid programs now provide a no-cost source of
asthma supplies, including spacer devices, medication boxes,
educational materials, and mattress/pillow covers.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health and Board
of Supervisors showed support for the project by incorporating the community health worker positions into the
city budget, a noteworthy step during a time of budget
shortfalls. In addition, providers from the asthma clinic offer regular training sessions with clinical staff from the
city’s health centers, school system, and medical training
Finally, the original Yes We Can work group at San
Francisco State University and City College launched a
statewide policy initiative aimed at improving Medicaid
reimbursement for asthma preventive services on a statewide
3. To develop and disseminate materials to a national audience. With the success demonstrated at San Francisco
General Hospital and expansion to two replication sites, the
Partnership outlined the Yes We Can approach in a Toolkit,
published in early 2004 by Community Health Works, Kaiser
Permanente Northern California, and the National Initiative on Children’s Healthcare Quality. The Toolkit contains
manuals for program managers, clinical care managers, and
community health workers, as well as a CD-ROM with
the forms and electronic database developed at SFGH. Information on how to obtain the toolkit may be found at
www.communityhealthworks.org/yeswecan. A second tool
for national replication is an in-depth case study commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4. To apply the newly developed medical/social model to
other chronic diseases. This remains a goal for the future
of Yes We Can. As the asthma intervention is scaled up for
replication outside of San Francisco, leadership at San Francisco State and City College is developing a higher education
textbook outlining chronic-care core competencies.
In contrast to themajority of prior asthma interventions, Yes
We Can attempts to improve both medical and social aspects
of asthma care. Findings from this preliminary evaluation
leave us optimistic that Yes We Can contributes to improved
care for children with asthma, although we are mindful of the
limitations of the pre/post design. Decreasesin asthma symptoms along with improved adherence to National Heart Lung
and Blood Institute guidelinesfor medication and action plan
use suggest that this program can improve clinical outcomes.
In addition, social and environmental outcomes suggest that
the medical/social model may improve the non-medical components of asthma care. Notsurprisingly,significant improvements occurred in areas where the program added something
to asthma care (medication prescriptions, action plans, bedcovers), in contrast to the more difficult effort of asking patients to change behaviors or take away something (cigarette
smoke and pets). We intend to focus on maximizing Yes We
Can’s additive components as we expand the program.
Overall, the largest additive component of the Yes We Can
wasthe community health workers. In the office, the community health workers promote family self-management through
cultural and linguistic competence and through their intense
education efforts. They then create a bridge to the home environment, reinforcing optimal asthma care here as well. In
both settings, community health workers assume many of the
routine aspects of chronic disease management, making more
efficient use of health professionals. Their efforts reduce the
need for phone calls to the medical providers for refills, clarify issues of medication use, help families navigate the insurance plans and formularies, and provide a personal contact
for other troubleshooting, all of which may be responsible
for a large amount of the program’s success.
Despite the value of this intervention, we did note reluctance among some families to accept home visits as a component of asthma care. When first approached, only 64%
originally agreed to home visits; and even among those who
agreed to the visits, 15% never completed any visits. We were
able review data on those families who had consented to the
study and did not complete visits; however, we did not note
any particular trends. Anecdotally, issues such as immigration status and stability of housing were factorsthat may have
led to home visit refusal.
The lower than expected acceptance of the Yes We Can intervention has led us to review our recruiting strategies and
seek other opportunities to supplement medical care with
the social supports of the community health workers. Since
completion of the pilot, we now offer families a more detailed
672 S. M. THYNE ET AL.
explanation of the components of the home visit and we ensure that the community health worker who will be completing the visit personally deliversthisinformation.We have also
initiated a randomized controlled trial of this intervention to
learn more about the role of community health workers.
At present, we continue to offer home visits. However, we
work with families to meet their individual needs. After determining that a child might benefit from augmented asthma
management extending beyond the clinic visits—owing to
severity of asthma, social barriers to care, or other factors,
community health workers help families to determine how to
best assist them.If a home visit is not acceptable to the family,
the community health worker then offers case management
and support through extensive telephone contacts. Additionally, community health workers have become integrated into
our urgent care visits for asthma, providing immediate teaching and referral to Yes We Can in hopes that the family might
be particularly receptive to services after experiencing the
stress of an acute visit for asthma.
The overall intention with Yes We Can was to assemble a
set of best practices and implement them under real-world
conditions. This effort is analogous to a phase III drug trial,
where best practices are put into place for the population
at large. Our intervention used existing infrastructure and
required a modest budget, and, following the pilot, Yes We
Can was permanently funded at our institution. Several other
clinical sites in our community have implemented the Yes We
Can model, and the Toolkit now provides the template for
further replication.
Our own experiences and interactions with colleagues underscored the importance of integrating medical and social
interventionsfor childhood asthma.Community health workers operating outside of a primary medical team do not have
the social power or organizational traction to improve the
practice of medical clinicians. Conversely, even the most effective medical care is too often undermined by complex
social factors or cultural barriers that are difficult for the
traditional care providers to address. Regardless of the effectiveness of medical interventions or social supports alone,
the added value of coordinated efforts is clear.
The Yes We Can model provides a valuable example of
how to assemble a comprehensive model of asthma care
for inner-city children. Linking the medical services to socialsupports with community health workers participating in
both components has potential to build a stronger patient and
community support for the integrated medical/social model.
Broad dissemination of sustainable community-based preventive health care that addresses both the medical care and
the social components of chronic disease is imperative if we
are to address today’s health care challenges.
The authors would like to thank Andrea Marmor, H.
William Taeusch, Alicia Fernandez, Michael Cabana, and
Elena Fuentes-Afflick for the comments on drafts of this
manuscript and members of the Yes We Can Urban Asthma
Partnership and the San Francisco Asthma Task Force for the
enthusiasm with which they have carried out this endeavor.
The UCSF Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
provided valuable support in the statistical analyses for this
The authors would also like to thank the sponsors of the
Yes We Can Urban Asthma Partnership. While this research
project itself was not funded, Partnership development and
much of the clinical work at San Francisco General Hospital were funded by a grant from The California Endowment.
Replication at community sites was supported by First Five,
through the California Children and Families Commission,
which allocated tobacco tax monies to the California Asthma
Initiative. Finally, support for the production of the materials for national dissemination came from The California
Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, The National Initiative for
Children’s Healthcare Quality and the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education of the United States Department of Education.
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Yes we can

This web site is aimed at public health program coordinators, clinic directors, clinicians, and asthma community health workers. It offers detailed information about the YES WE CAN medical-social model of care, the YES WE CAN Toolkit, Managing Children’s Asthma: A Community-Focused, Team Approach, related training opportunities, and resources for practitioners. We also offer links to other useful asthma websites and organizations. If you are an asthma patient, or the caregiver for someone with asthma, you may wish to go directly to our links page.

We know how to prevent uncontrolled children’s asthma. But in a healthcare system geared to acute care rather than chronic care, an abyss exists between what we know and what we do. The gap is particularly wide in stressed community-based and public health clinics, serving the neediest patients.

To close that gap, YES WE CAN set out to demonstrate a team model of prevention-oriented children’s asthma care that addresses both the social and the medical challenges of good asthma management. The primary care team consists of a clinician, a nurse care coordinator, and a community health worker from the child’s own community. The team approach builds cultural and linguistic competence into the heart of health care, and enables non-physicians to play a strong role in supporting asthma self-management. A structured care pathway makes it easier for busy health professionals to put the NIH Clinical Guidelines into practice.

The YES WE CAN Urban Asthma Partnership was formed in 1997, when a group of 16 organizations came together to improve clinical asthma care in the health safety net (see Credits for a list of these organizations). We have three San Francisco demonstration clinic sites that are showing excellent outcomes in health and utilization.

In summer 2004 we released a Toolkit, Managing Children’s Asthma: A Community-Focused, Team Approach, developed in partnership with Kaiser Permanente Northern California, that provides a step-by-step template for how to implement this team model of chronic conditions management. All protocols, forms, and training materials have been extensively tested in the real world. They are available on an included CD ROM, for your clinic to customize. In the future we intend to adapt this team approach to other chronic diseases. We are currently advocating for financing and system changes needed to support prevention-oriented care.