Community Volunteers and Primary Care Providers Supporting Older Adults in System Navigation: A Mixed Methods Study Academic Article uri icon

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  • Introduction

    Primary care providers and community volunteers have important roles in supporting patient system navigation and utilization of community-based health and social services (CBHSS). This study aimed to explore the experiences and impacts of system navigation in a complex intervention supporting older adults.


    We used a convergent mixed methods design. Participants included primary care team members (n = 67), community volunteers (n = 38), and programme clients (n = 128) across six communities in Ontario, Canada. Data sources included focus groups, interviews, system navigation function survey for volunteers, CBHSS use survey for clients, and implementation data on CBHSS recommended by providers and volunteers and used by clients.


    Results showed the different patterns of how CBHSS categories were recommended and ultimately used. Exercise-related CBHSS were both recommended and used, independence-related CBHSS were mostly only recommended with less uptake, and chronic health condition and diet/nutrition CBHSS were most often used by clients.


    Primary care teams' practice of system navigation was impacted by programme participation, including through learning about local CBHSS. However, volunteers felt more confident in tasks that did not include connecting to CBHSS. The programme did seem to result in many referrals, though the actual client uptake tended to be to more clinical rather than healthy lifestyle resources.


  • Gaber, Jessica
  • Di Pelino, Stephanie
  • Datta, Julie
  • Talat, Samina
  • Browne, Tracy
  • Marentette-Brown, Sarah
  • Bomze, Sivan
  • Forsyth, Pamela
  • Oliver, Douglas
  • Carr, Tracey
  • Mangin, Derelie A

publication date

  • March 2, 2022