Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Simon Laboratory

Patient Navigation

Current Projects

Chinatown Patient Navigation Program

Chinese women in Chicago have unacceptably low breast and cervical cancer screening rates. Using a community-based participatory research approach and leveraging well-established partnerships with the Chinese American Service League, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, Rush University Institute for Healthy Aging, and Northwestern University, this study expands and evaluates a well-tested patient navigator (PN) model to promote breast and cervical cancer screening and follow-up among Chinese women in Chicago’s Chinatown. Results provide insight into what determines the effectiveness of PNs as health educators, how to encourage breast and cervical cancer screening, and how PNs can become trusted and respected community health workers and advocates that provide essential links between the community and the health care system. Findings from this study will also help develop effective and culturally tailored community-based health programs to eliminate health disparities for Chinese American women. Funding support is provided by the National Cancer Institute. 

State of Illinois Patient Navigation Pilot Evaluation

To ensure that women in all communities throughout the state of Illinois have access to high quality mammograms and breast cancer treatment, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the Department of Public Health launched the Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Initiative. This initiative created patient navigator pilot projects at two hospitals and two Comprehensive Care Plans that serve Medicaid patients across Chicago, its suburbs/collar counties, and in downstate Illinois. This study evaluates the pilot projects’ different approaches in order to identify best practices in navigating Medicaid enrollees through the complexities of breast cancer treatment. Funding support is provided by the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services.

Building Breast Cancer Community Navigation in Chicago

The efforts of this project are focused on improving Chicago’s breast cancer mortality disparities- which are among the worst in the U.S. We partner with the Mount Sinai Urban Institute’s (SUHI) Helping Her Live Program to improve mammography screening. We aim to build a robust community navigation and outreach model in Chicago Lawn, a low income community that is approximately half Latino and half African American. Specifically, we aim to address three keys to breast health: routine mammography, timely resolution of abnormal mammograms, and timely treatment for women with cancer. In order to accomplish these goals, a variety of outreach methods were developed by SUHI for the project’s original west side target area, including conducting workshops, attending events like community forums and health fairs, doing table set-ups and one-on-one canvassing at local churches, schools, food pantries, etc.  Community Health Educators living in the communities are recruited to act as navigators, helping women overcome any barriers to care.  Funding support is provided by the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation.

Completed Projects

DuPage Patient Navigation Project

DuPage County, a collar county of Chicago, is a suburb with a growing low-income, uninsured population. This community based participatory research project emerged from a longstanding partnership between Northwestern University and Access DuPage – which coordinates care for 14,000 uninsured DuPage County residents. This study implemented and evaluated a patient navigation program intended to promote timely follow-up among low-income women with abnormal breast or cervical cancer screening results. Patient navigators reduced patients’ barriers to care by making appointment reminder calls, providing informational, logistical, and emotional support, providing interpreter services, and linking patients to a myriad of community health and human resources. Funding support is provided by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Chicago Cancer Navigation Project

As one of nine sites of the national Patient Navigation Research Program (PNRP), the Chicago Cancer Navigation project developed and evaluated a navigation intervention for low income persons in Chicago with a positive screening test for cancer of the prostate, colorectum, breast, or cervix.