Claire Snell-Rood, Professor

Closed (2) Advancing California Community Health Workers: A Mixed Methods Analysis of California Asthma CHW Programs

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

This research project is a partnership between the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Investigations Branch, and involves identifying and understanding how community health workers (CHWs) are working in California. CHWs are trusted members of the community who have an intimate understanding of the population and community they serve. They leverage shared experiences and their linguistic and cultural relationships to bridge the community and health services, and deliver culturally informed interventions to their communities.

In order to better prepare, support, and advance the estimated 6,200 CHWs working in California community organizations, local and county health departments, and managed care organizations, researchers and practitioners must first understand how CHWs are working in California, and will approach them through California CHWs working in asthma, particularly in home-based asthma interventions. Many asthma CHWs deliver home-based interventions, and these CHWs are unique in that, although they may work for a disease-specific program, they must be knowledgeable and comfortable to talk about a multitude of health-related topics. This project will lay the foundation for a larger research study that will contribute to how California can best advance and utilize CHWs.

The purpose of this project is to describe:
• who comprises the CHW workforce
• what CHW roles and skills are necessary for the program
• what interventions CHWs deliver
• how the programs are financed

This research project employs several qualitative research methods – in-depth interviews and focus groups. The undergraduate research apprentices will be trained to analyze qualitative data. They will learn to code and analyze the researchers' interviews, write analytical memos, and turn the insights gathered from this process into an article.


We are looking for 1-2 undergraduates that are interested in working on this project. Students who work on this project will have the opportunity to interact with graduate students and faculty and learn about community health, health care integration, and health workforce issues. I am committed to mentoring students and making this a rewarding opportunity., Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Minimum: • Interested in learning about qualitative research and qualitative data analysis • Mature, upper division science or social science major • Strong work ethic and a critical thinker Preferred: • Qualitative research coursework or experience • Spanish-speaking

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs

Closed (3) Rural Mental Health Services in California: the role of System and Organizational-Level factors

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

This project will examine system- and organizational-level factors that influence the implementation of rural mental health services in California using secondary archival data. California organizes delivery of its mental health services at the county level, often putting lower population rural counties at a disadvantage for retention, leadership, resources for training, and data management that impact the delivery of mental health services in the community.


Role for undergraduate research apprentice:
1. Archival record collection: compiling publicly available records on quality improvement efforts in county mental health, finding other related gray and academic literature related to rural mental health in California

2. Data analysis: The undergraduate will be trained in qualitative data analysis and software to analyze archival data.

3. Literature review: The undergraduate will assist in collecting background literature to inform the write-up of the analysis and other research products.

4. Team work and collaboration with faculty member and other research team members for data analysis, project oversight.

Learning outcomes: Advanced skills in qualitative data analysis of interviews and proficiency in Dedoose, a qualitative data analysis software; Comprehension of the complex factors shaping rural behavioral health disparities and access to medication-assisted treatment; and Team-based collaborative skills

Qualifications: Qualitative research experience not required (participation in D-Lab qualitative workshops a plus), but an eagerness to learn and be trained is. Familiarity with health disparities, interest in health promotion and healthcare. Required: strong initiative to learn, exemplary reading and comprehension skills, critical thinking, responsiveness, collaborative and communication skills. Students whose applications describe their specific skills and interest in the project will be most likely to be interviewed.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Closed (4) Expanding the capacity of rural mental health through community health workers and peer providers

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

Depression is a particular challenge to rural populations. Among rural women in the United States, the incidence of depression is more than twice the national average. Yet the socio-ecological environment of rural areas—including stigma, gendered responsibilities for family caregiving, poverty, and healthcare shortages—diminishes rural residents’ ability to treat their depression. Consequently, rural people visit mental health providers less often and for an insufficient dose compared with than urban people.

Many initiatives concentrate on decreasing healthcare barriers by expanding access to mental health specialty care in rural settings. Yet considerable individual and social barriers remain, demonstrating the need for approaches that can address barriers and employ resources across systemic, organizational, provider, and individual levels.

This project explores the organizational, policy, and system-level factors involved in task shifting rural mental health services to peer providers and community health workers. In mental health, peer providers are people with the lived experience of mental health conditions that help provide services to patients, often through “recovery” oriented programs that further patients’ capacity of for self-determination, growth, wellness, and contribution to the community. Similarly, community health workers constitute auxiliary healthcare workers whose lived experience mirrors that of patients as they come from the same communities. Their roles often include education, outreach, and care coordination. Though CHWs play an increasingly crucial role in a changing healthcare environment, they remain a largely untapped resource for mental healthcare in the U.S. Like peer provider specialists, CHWs have deep knowledge of the people and communities with whom they work; yet unlike peer providers, CHWs are not required to personally experience the health issue their work addresses.

Delivering mental health programming through CHWs and peer providers enables us to reach populations inadequately served by mental health services. Rural health interventions involving CHWs successfully integrate accessible health messaging, and retain participants. Yet despite rural consumers’ preference for CHWs, few rural mental health interventions employ CHWs and peer providers and little research examines the implementation factors making CHW-facilitated interventions--and the CHW workforce more broadly—sustainable. Because CHWs play a vital role in the process of care coordination, integral to healthcare reform, their involvement is sustainable—continuing beyond individual interventions, and building on their relationships within communities. For rural and underserved people more broadly for whom “treatment as usual” remains sporadic, CHWs and peer providers can provide a continued bridge back into clinical treatment.

This qualitative exploratory study asks: What interventions could CHWs and peer providers deliver to address mild to moderate mental health conditions in rural areas? What patient needs could be addressed? What implementation factors at the organizational and system level would facilitate delivery by CHWs and peer providers in rural areas?


The undergraduate research apprentice would provide qualitative data analysis assistance to supplement an ongoing project examining the research and gray literature on rural community health workers and peer providers.

Role for undergraduate research apprentice:
1. Archival record collection: finding gray and academic literature related to rural mental health and community health workers' and peer providers' roles

2. Data analysis: The undergraduate will be trained in qualitative data analysis and software to analyze archival data.

3. Literature review: The undergraduate will assist in collecting background literature to inform the write-up of the analysis and other research products.

4. Team work and collaboration with faculty member and other research team members for data analysis, project oversight.

Learning outcomes: Advanced skills in qualitative data analysis of interviews and proficiency in MAXQDA, a qualitative data analysis software; Comprehension of the complex factors shaping rural behavioral health disparities ; and Team-based collaborative skills

Qualifications: Qualitative research experience not required (participation in D-Lab qualitative workshops a plus), but an eagerness to learn and be trained is. Familiarity with health disparities, interest in health promotion and healthcare. Required: strong initiative to learn, exemplary reading and comprehension skills, critical thinking, responsiveness, collaborative and communication skills. Students whose applications describe their specific skills and interest in the project will be most likely to be interviewed.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs