The Impact of the Lay Health Educator (LHE) Model on Hepatitis B Screening among the Refugee Population




Acharya, Rushil
Akpan, Idara N.
Raines-Milenkov, Amy
Felini, Martha
Baker, Eva


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Purpose: Hepatitis B (HBV) is a viral infection affecting the liver which may lead to acute and chronic diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Although refugees are required to screen for hepatitis B at the time of arrival in the U.S., many of them are not aware of their hepatitis B results and there are gaps in follow-up care for individuals who test positive. The Building Bridges program responds to this unmet need through hepatitis B education, screening and navigation to follow-up clinical care. This study aims to evaluate the impact of Building Bridges lay health educator (LHE) model as an approach to increase hepatitis B screening among the refugee population. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis of HBV screening was conducted among the refugee population enrolled in the Building Bridges program from 2014 to 2020. Statistical analysis was performed using Microsoft Excel and Statistical Analysis System (SAS). Hepatitis B screening completion rates were calculated. Results: 1053 female and male enrolled refugees were asked about previous hepatitis B screening. 717 participants were eligible, of those, 680 participants were never screened. At post enrollment, 303 participants received hepatitis B screening. Conclusions: The LHE model helped to increase Hepatitis B screening. Lay health educators play significant roles in facilitating access to health care. There is need for more research on the impact of the LHE model in motivating the need for preventive health screening. More research is needed to understand why some participants did not choose to be screened.