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Advisors: Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH, Martha Romney, MS, JD, MPH and Dan Atkins--Thomas Jefferson University.


The purpose of this study is to discuss program planning and evaluation of Health, Education and Legal Assistance Program: A Medical-Legal Partnership (HELP: MLP) a pilot program addressing the unmet legal needs of patients in order to improve health. MLPs are partnerships between legal and medical professionals that identify and address unmet legal needs considered to be social determinants of poor health. HELP: MLP is a partnership between Widener University School of Law, ChesPenn Health Services and Crozer-Chester Medical Center. The PRECEDE-PROCEED model shaped program planning. An evaluation tool was created based on tools being used by other MLPs. Telephone interviews were conducted with clients who had received legal services to assess changes in overall health, stress, self-efficacy and client satisfaction. Of 37 clients who had closed cases at the time of data collection and were eligible to participate in the study, 19 clients responded to the interview. Sixteen of the respondents reported a decrease in overall stress following HELP: MLP services. All 19 respondents reported that they were satisfied with the quality of communication of the clinic. Eleven respondents (57%) reported an improvement in overall health and four respondents reported improvement in their child’s health. The average reported stress level of clients seeking assistance with a special education case prior to receiving services was 10/10 (10 being extreme stress) following services the average stress level reported was 6.4. For disability issues the average stress level of clients was an 8.25; following services it was a 1.75. Although preliminary, the results show a decrease in clients’ stress and improvement in health following HELP: MLP services.