Bridging the postpartum gap: best practices for training of obstetrical patient navigators

Lynn M. Yee*, Brittney Williams, Hannah M. Green, Viridiana Carmona-Barrera, Laura Diaz, Ka'Derricka D. Davis, Michelle A. Kominiarek, Joe Feinglass, Chloe A. Zera, William A. Grobman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The postpartum period represents a critical window of opportunity to improve maternal short- and long-term health, including optimizing postpartum recovery, providing effective contraception, caring for mood disorders, managing weight, supporting lactation, initiating preventive care, and promoting cardiometabolic health. However, inadequate postpartum care, especially for individuals facing social and structural barriers, is common in the United States and contributes to suboptimal health outcomes with lasting consequences. Patient navigation is a patient-centered intervention that uses trained personnel to identify financial, cultural, logistical, and educational obstacles to effective healthcare and to mitigate these barriers to facilitate comprehensive and timely access to needed health services. Given the emerging evidence suggesting that patient navigation may be a promising method to improve health among postpartum individuals, our team developed a postpartum patient navigator training guide to be used in the Navigating New Motherhood 2 and other obstetrical navigation programs. Navigating New Motherhood 2 is a randomized trial exploring whether patient navigation by a trained, lay postpartum navigator for individuals with a low income can improve health and patient-reported outcomes during and after the postpartum period. Hiring and training patient navigators without health professional degrees are integral components of initiating a navigation program. However, patient navigator training is highly variable, and no guideline regarding key elements in such a training program exists for obstetrics specifically. Thus, this paper aimed to describe the core principles, content, and rationale for each element in a comprehensive postpartum patient navigator training program. Training should be centered around the following 6 core elements: (1) principles of patient navigation; (2) knowledge of pregnancy and postpartum care; (3) health education and health promotion principles; (4) cultural sensitivity and health equity; (5) care coordination and community resources; and (6) electronic medical record systems. These core elements can serve as a basis for the development of adaptable curricula for several institutions and contexts. In addition, we offer recommendations for the implementation of a navigator training program. A curriculum with built-in flexibility to meet community and institutional needs may promote the effective and sustainable use of patient navigation in the postpartum context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-152
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Volume225
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Keywords

  • health disparities
  • health education
  • navigator training
  • patient navigation
  • patient navigator
  • postpartum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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