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The role of community healthcare workers in head and neck cancer: a systematic scoping review of the literature

Lookup NU author(s): Ellen Meredith, Linda Errington, David Hamilton


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It is estimated that Head and Neck Cancer (HNC) will cause over 500,000 deaths worldwide by 2030. This is coupled with a shortage of trained healthcare professionals to manage HNC. An alternative cadre of workers–community healthcare workers (CHWs)–could be deployed to address this shortage. A systematic scoping review was conducted. Seven major databases were searched from inception to 30 June 2021. Studies were included from across the globe and excluded if the focus was not on HNC or CHWs. We identified 13 studies for inclusion. Twelve were based in India. CHWs were deployed in education and awareness raising initiatives, community screening, and ensuring compliance with treatment and follow-up. CHWs were compared to specialists for effectiveness in four studies with one reporting sensitivity of 94·3% and specificity 99·3% for HNC screening. This review highlights ways in which CHWs can be deployed to meet the growing demand for HNC services. The existing evidence suggests that CHWs can have potential roles in screening for HNC, therefore facilitating an earlier diagnosis. It is important this screening is implemented where there is appropriate capacity to manage HNC. Further research needs to be carried out to explore barriers and facilitators to these programmes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Meredith E, O'Donovan J, Errington L, Mathur M, Hamilton D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Global Public Health

Year: 2022

Volume: 17

Issue: 12

Pages: 3283-3302

Online publication date: 17/03/2022

Acceptance date: 15/02/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1744-1706

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2022.2049847


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