The first ever Europe-wide online survey has been launched with the aim of improving health care services for men who have sex with men (MSM). The ECHOES survey is the first of its kind to target community health workers who provide sexual health support including counselling, testing, and psychosocial care for MSM. The findings of the ground-breaking ECHOES survey will be used to help understand who CHWs in Europe are, what they do, where they do it, how, and why they do it. Findings will also be used to identify the barriers and challenges to CHWs as well as identify training needs.
‘Community Health Worker’ (CHW) is a relatively new term for Europe. Many CHWs go by different titles such as outreach workers, peer educators, NGO workers, promoters, peer counsellors, peer navigators, lay health workers, health providers, community advocates, volunteers, and so on. Regardless of title, CHWs represent a large and diverse group of people who provide crucial sexual health support around HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), to gay, bisexual and other MSM in community settings.
The survey was developed by the University of Brighton’s ECHOES development team (Dr Nigel Sherriff, Professor Jörg Huber, and Dr Nick McGlynn) and focuses on different aspects of daily activities of CHWs, their beliefs, level of knowledge, and experiences. Dr Sherriff said:
“The overall aim is to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of community based health workers providing health services for MSM. It will provide the baseline for the evaluation and further improvement of training programmes and materials for training of community health workers working with MSM and for quality improvement of the services provided for MSM.
“We hope as many workers as possible throughout Europe who provide sexual health services for MSM in the community will take part. This will be crucial to help ensure the findings are able to inform future policy priorities for the European Commission and its member states.”
European Community Health Workers Online Survey (ECHOES) is available online NOW in 16 languages and will remain open until 31st December 2017. Take part here.
ECHOES is part of ESTICOM project funded by the European Health Programme 2014 – 2020. ESTICOM also includes EMIS 2017 the survey addressing gay men and other MSM and a training programme for CHWs in order to improve access and quality of prevention, diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, STI and viral hepatitis and health care services for gay men and other MSM. The project is coordinated by the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin.
The Project is an important opportunity to strengthen community response and raise awareness about the persisting legal, structural, political and social barriers hindering a more effective response to the syndemic of HIV, viral hepatitis B and C, and other STIs among MSM. Early findings are expected in the Spring of 2018.
To take part in the ECHOES survey go to: www.echoessurvey.eu
To find out more about the project go to: www.esticom.eu