Community-Based Participatory Research

Community Partners Help Design Women’s Health Screening Tool

Researchers at UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC supported clinicians, patient representatives, and community partners in the development of new women’s health screening tools and processes using a human-centered design approach that combined eight different health screenings into a single screening tool while incorporating screening for intimate partner violence.

MAHEC’s family medicine division engaged community partners to help redesign the health screening instruments and processes to ensure they were safe, relevant, and patient-centered.

Over a series of three sessions, community partners emphasized the importance of patients understanding why they were being asked questions about their health behaviors.

Community feedback led to the development and iterative refinement of a patient engagement tool and screening instrument that identify women’s key health goals and behaviors that can impact these goals.

The patient engagement tool is interactive with flaps that open to reveal health facts and questions to encourage discussion with healthcare providers.The goal is for 

female patients between the ages of 18 and 65 to receive the engagement tool prior to being screened during their exam at any of MAHEC’s six family health centers.

During the exam, patients are asked screening questions related to key health goals and given an opportunity to share any questions or concerns they may have.

Since implementation in fall of 2017, thousands of patients have been screened across MAHEC’s six practices using the new women’s health screening tools and processes.

Screening rates have increased on all health measures including intimate partner violence, sexual health, family planning, multivitamin use, and alcohol and drug use.

The research team is currently working with community partners to learn how the co-designing process impacted them and what was most meaningful. A case study was published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal in June 2019.



Principal investigators: Dan Frayne, MD, president and former medical director of MAHEC Family Health Centers, Julie Shelton, MPH, and Dan Davis, practice consultants, and Evan Richardson, director of quality improvement and patient safety at MAHEC; Kathy Foley, PhD, Bayla Ostrach, PhD, and Lauren Payne, Department of Research, UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC.