Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Chair

Dr. Cathy Hughes

Committee Chair School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Member 2

Dr. Carolyn Coleman

Committee Member 2 School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Member 3

Dr. Rita Porter


Treatment rates in primary care for the mental health population is traditionally low. Individuals with mental illnesses were at a higher risk for the development of chronic health problems (Ross et al., 2015). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicated that many people with serious mental illness die from preventable diseases. People with serious mental illness also have a higher mortality rate than those in the general population (SAMHSA, 2017b).

The purpose of this Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) project was to determine if educational training regarding specific chronic disease conditions influenced the attitude and knowledge of the Community Health Workers (CHWs) in the day treatment program. The project was also to determine if the development and utilization of the referral policy and toolkit would assist CHWs in referring clients to primary care. There were a total of eight participants. A pretest and survey were administered to the CHW followed by an educational presentation. A posttest and survey were administered. The means of the post-test and post surveys increased. The pre/posttest and survey results supported the incorporation of education regarding the importance of preventive health and wellness to the CHW. The Director of Adult Services of the mental health facility assembled a focus group of mental health providers. The referral policy and toolkit was introduced to the CHWs and the focus group. Following the introduction of the referral policy and toolkit, the focus group completed a questionnaire. The purpose of the questionnaire was to determine the ease of use and the overall usefulness of the toolkit. Overall the staff thought the toolkit was useful in assisting with referrals.