Allied health workers’ role in patient education in the United States
Keywords:Allied health workers, healthcare, patient education, role, teaching, united states
Introduction: Patient education (PE) has been traditionally seen as the role of nurses and physicians, while allied health workers (AHWs)-who make up the biggest population of the US healthcare workforce-are sometimes reduced to providing supportive roles. This article reviews the available literature on the role of AHWs in providing PE in the US.
Methods: This review was based on a search of the databases Academic Search Ultimate; Health Source-Consumer Edition; Health Source-Nursing/Academic Edition and MEDLINE initially conducted between January 10 and February 3, 2021, and later re-done between December 20 and December 22, 2021. This review applied guidelines for narrative reviews (Ferrari 2015). The search looked at papers published between 2001 and 2021, which discussed allied health professions relevant to the US health system.
Results: The review derived 18 articles from the search and two articles from the reference lists of the 18 articles. The review found that AHWs seldom performed PE, although the profession of physical therapy made efforts to formalize participation in PE. It also found that expansion of roles for AHWs was warranted, although additional training may be required to develop effective PE competencies among AHWs. Finally, it found existing challenges such as interprofessional rivalries and time limitations that affected the incorporation of AHWs in PE.
Conclusions: AHWs have untapped potential to contribute more to the US health system through delivery of effective PE. Policy adjustments are needed to maximize the input of AHWs in PE. Increased interprofessional collaboration in the US health system is needed to facilitate the extension of PE roles to AHWs. Further research is needed to better understand the factors limiting AHWs’ involvement in PE.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Walter Moyoh, Kaboni W Gondwe, Panayiota Andreou, Elena Philippou, Alexia Papageorgiou
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