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The role of patient navigators in ambulatory care: overview of systematic reviews

Budde, Hannah, Williams, Gemma A., Winkelmann, Juliane, Pfirter, Laura and Maier, Claudia B. (2021) The role of patient navigators in ambulatory care: overview of systematic reviews. BMC Health Services Research, 21 (1). ISSN 1472-6963

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Identification Number: 10.1186/s12913-021-07140-6


Background: Patient navigators have been introduced across various countries to enable timely access to healthcare services and to ensure completion of diagnosis and follow-up of care. There is an increasing evidence on the the role of patient navigation for patients and healthcare systems. The aim of this study was to analyse the evidence on patient navigation interventions in ambulatory care and to evaluate their effects on individuals and health system outcomes. Methods: An overview of reviews was conducted, following a prespecified protocol. All patients in ambulatory care or transitional care setting were included in this review as long as it was related to the role of patient navigators. The study analysed patient navigators covering a wide range of health professionals such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and lay health workers or community-based workers with no or very limited training. Studies including patient-related measures and health system-related outcomes were eligible for inclusion. A rigorous search was performed in multiple data bases. After reaching a high inter-rater agreement of 0.86, title and abstract screening was independently performed. Of an initial 14,248 search results and an additional 62 articles identified through the snowballing approach, a total of 7159 hits were eligible for title/abstract screening. 679 articles were included for full-text screening. Results: Eleven systematic reviews were included covering various patient navigation intervention in cancer care, disease screening, transitional care and for various chronic conditions and multimorbidity. Nine systematic reviews primarily tailored services to ethnic minorities or other disadvantaged groups. Patient navigators performed tasks such as providing education and counselling, translations, home visits, outreach, scheduling of appointments and follow-up. Eight reviews identified positive outcomes in expanding access to care, in particular for vulnerable patient groups. Two reviews on patient navigation in transitional care reported improved patient outcomes, hospital readmission rates and mixed evidence on quality of life and emergency department visits. Two reviews demonstrated improved patient outcomes for persons with various chronic conditions and multimorbidity. Conclusions: Patient navigators were shown to expand access to screenings and health services for vulnerable patients or population groups with chronic conditions who tend to underuse health services.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2021 15:27
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 23:12

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