What are patient navigators doing, for whom, and where? A national survey evaluating the types of services provided by patient navigators

Kristen J. Wells, Patricia Valverde, Amy E. Ustjanauskas, Elizabeth Calhoun, Betsy C. Risendal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Objective: A nationwide cross-sectional study was conducted to assess patient navigator, patient population, and work setting characteristics associated with performance of various patient navigation (PN) tasks. Methods: Using respondent-driven sampling, 819 navigators completed a survey assessing frequency of providing 83 PN services, along with information about themselves, populations they serve, and setting in which they worked. Analyses of variance and Pearson correlations were conducted to determine differences and associations in frequency of PN services provided by various patient, navigator, and work setting characteristics. Results: Nurse navigators and navigators with lower education provide basic navigation; social workers typically made arrangements and referrals; and individuals with higher education, social workers, and nurses provide treatment support and clinical trials/peer support. Treatment support and clinical trials/peer support are provided to individuals with private insurance. Basic navigation, arrangements and referrals, and care coordination are provided to individuals with Medicaid or no insurance. Conclusion: Providing basic navigation is a core competency for patient navigators. There may be two different specialties of PN, one which seeks to reduce health disparities and a second which focuses on treatment and emotional support. Practice implications: The selection and training of patient navigators should reflect the specialization required for a position.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
StateAccepted/In press - 2017



  • Core competencies
  • Patient navigation
  • Patient navigator
  • Specialty competencies
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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