A Prescription for… a Community Organization?

This article piloted CommunityRx, an intervention that provided personalized referrals to community resources around chronic disease/condition management (including HIV), mental health, food (in)security, transportation, exercise, caregiving, and more. CommunityRx referrals also included the relevant contact and insurance information plus sliding scale information, where applicable. The location of the pilot was a medical center in a predominantly Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. A sample of visitors for primary or emergency care between 45-74 years old were randomized to receive usual care or usual care plus the CommunityRx intervention. 76% of people in the sample were women and 91% were Black. 53% had a yearly household income below $25,000 per year and 39% had one between $25,000-$49,999 per year.

Both groups reported high confidence in their ability to find resources. At the same time, the percentage of those who reported sharing information they received from CommunityRx increased as time went on: 22% had done so after one week, 31% had after one month, and 35% had after 3 months. Patients who shared this information were more likely to be in poorer health and more likely to report utilizing one of the CommunityRx referrals they received. Additionally, they noted that when did share this information with others, they emphasized the entity’s convenience and relevancy.

For staff at AIDS Service Organizations this study reflects how one additional strength of clients is the ability to reliably share information with their networks. In turn, it is important to tailor referrals, ensure the information you provide is accurate, and continuously learn about the resources available to those you are working with. At the same time, you don’t want to merely provide someone with a name and number to call, if possible. It’s often a good idea to find out more about the individual’s specific concerns and needs to provide a “warm handoff” with their permission. This requires knowing about what the entity provides in more depth as well as cultivating relationships with its staff. If you are unsure which resources are welcoming to the older adults you work with (ex. LGBTQ, communities of color, accessible to people with disabilities) you may want to reach out to those you know you have utilized them or to local organizations that serve these communities. People aging with HIV are especially resilient and this includes sharing information with others in need when they have positive experiences.


Source: Lindau, S. T., Makelarski, J. A., Abramsohn, E. M., Beiser, D. G., Boyd, K., Huang, E. S., Paradise, K., & Tung, E. L. (2021). Sharing information about health-related resources: Observations from a community resource referral intervention trial in a predominantly African American/Black community. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 1– 11. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.2456