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Doulas as Community Health Workers: Lessons Learned from a Volunteer Program

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Doulas, women who primarily provide social support during childbirth, have been associated with a number of positive health outcomes. Because the primary model of practice for doulas is a fee-for-service model in which families privately hire a doula, many expectant women who could benefit from doula support are unable to access the service. The Doulas Care program, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, represents one model in which doulas provide services without charge. As a result of their extended role in the community, doulas who work with the Doulas Care program have unique educational needs. Through the use of focus groups with the program's volunteer doulas, educational needs related to overcoming barriers to being a doula working in the community were identified. Recommendations for education and training are made to improve the support doulas offer as community health outreach workers.
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Keywords: community health aides; doulas; health education; labor support; perinatal care; program development/methods

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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