Community health workers (CHWs) are lay members of the community who work either for pay or as volunteers in association with the local health care system in both urban and rural environments. CHWs usually share ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, and life experiences with the community members they serve. They have been identified by many titles, such as community health advisors, lay health advocates, promotoras, outreach educators, community health representatives, peer health promoters, and peer health educators. CHWs offer interpretation and translation services, provide culturally appropriate health education and information, help people get the care they need, give informal counseling and guidance on health behaviors, advocate for individual and community health needs, and provide some direct services such as first aid and blood pressure screening.
Since CHWs typically reside in the community they serve, they have the unique ability to bring information where it is needed most. They can reach community residents where they live, eat, play, work, and worship. CHWs are frontline agents of change, helping to reduce health disparities in underserved communities.
Among the many known outcomes of CHWs’ service are the following:
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions. (2007).
Program's goal is to provide training so that participants become newly credentialed CHWs and HSWs.
Develop new and existing curriculums to increase the skills and competencies of existing CHWs and HSWs.
Advance health equity and support for underserved communities by increasing the number of CHWs and HSWs that are employed as integral members of integrated care teams that use their expanded skills to reduce health disparities.