Colorado Hospital Association Awarded Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant to Expand Patient and Family Engagement Work in Colorado Hospitals

Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) was recently awarded the Building Trust and Mutual Respect to Improve Health Care grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The grant monies will be used to analyze whether hospital-based patient family engagement (PFE) programs increase the trust and communication climate among patients, providers and staff of rural and critical access hospitals. The study will also help by identifying the effectiveness of a variety of strategies.

The program that this Building Trust and Mutual Respect to Improve Health Care grant will fund is based on research findings that show higher trust between patients and providers is associated with positive health outcomes1. Despite that, research has also shown that public trust in health care leadership has been declining for 50 years2, a phenomenon that is particularly concerning for rural hospitals due to their patient populations’ higher rates of mortality from the leading causes of death and poorer overall health when compared to urban populations3.

CHA believes that PFE is a promising mechanism for improving trust in rural hospitals and is eager for the opportunity to study this scientifically. Given their limited resources, it is of great importance that rural hospitals have evidence-based information about which PFE strategies most effectively build trust and mutual respect with their communities.

“CHA is honored to receive this grant from the distinguished Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,” said Steven Summer, CHA president and CEO. “There are few relationships that require as much trust as that between provider and patient, and CHA is pleased to be able to provide expanded support to rural Colorado hospitals by undertaking this study.”

During a 24-month period, CHA will collect and analyze hospital data to determine associations between specific PFE strategies and survey scores on various domains of communication climate and trust. Then, using a sample of 10 hospitals, the Association will determine which PFE strategies are the most effective for rural hospitals to employ.

CHA has been working with its member hospitals and health systems for the past several years on PFE strategies, including helping many hospitals establish Patient and Family Advisory Councils to provide a crucial mechanism for the patient voice to be heard in important hospital decisions. The Association is looking forward to furthering its work in this area.

# # #

About the Colorado Hospital Association

Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) is the leading voice of Colorado’s hospital and health system community. Representing 105 member hospitals and health systems throughout the state, CHA serves as a trusted, credible and reliable resource on health issues, hospital data and trends for its members, media, policymakers and the general public. Through CHA, Colorado’s hospitals and health systems work together in their shared commitment to improve health and health care in Colorado. Learn more about CHA at

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 45 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at


1 Birkhäuer J, Gaab J, Kossowsky J, Hasler S, Krummenacher P, Werner C, Gerger H. Trust in the health care professional
and health outcome: A meta-analysis. PloS one. 2017 Feb 7;12(2):e0170988.

2 Blendon RJ, Benson JM, Hero JO. Public trust in physicians—U.S. medicine in international perspective. The New
England Journal of Medicine. 2014;371(17):1570–1572.

3 Rural Health Information Hub. Rural Health Disparities.