INTRODUCTION: Advance care planning and symptom screening among patients with cancer require team-based approaches to ensure that these services are equitably and appropriately delivered. In several organizations across the United States, we trained and employed lay health workers (LHWs) to assist with delivering these services for patients with cancer. The aim of this study was to understand LHWs' views on delivering these services.METHODS: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 22 LHWs in 6 US-based clinical cancer care settings in 4 large cities. We recorded, transcribed, and analyzed interviews using the constant comparative method of qualitative analysis.RESULTS: Participants noted the importance of their role in assisting with the delivery of advance care planning (ACP) and symptom screening services. Participants noted the importance of developing relationships with patients to engage openly in ACP and symptom screening discussions. Participants reported that ongoing training provided skills and empowered them to discuss sensitive issues with patients and their caregivers. Participants described challenges in their roles including communication with oncology providers and their own emotional well-being. Participants identified solutions to these challenges including formal opportunities for introduction with oncology clinicians and staff and grievance sessions with LHWs and other team members.DISCUSSION: LHWs from several organizations endorsed the importance of their roles in ensuring the delivery of ACP and proactive symptom screening. LHWs noted challenges and specific solutions to improve their effectiveness in delivering these important services to patients after their diagnosis of cancer.
View details for DOI 10.1177/1049909120977841
View details for PubMedID 33267632