Community Health Workers

What are community health workers?

The American Public Health Association's Community Health Worker Section has adopted the following definition for community health workers:

A community health worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community being served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. A CHW also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.

CHWs have many titles including Promotores de Salud, Community Health Representatives (CHRs), and Community Health Advisors.

Featured Resources and Reports:

CDC's Community Health Worker Toolkit
CDC has developed a resource of compiled evidence-based research that supports the effectiveness of community health workers (CHWs). The toolkit includes information state health departments can use to train and further build capacity for CHWs in their communities and resources that CHWs can use within their communities.  

Community Health Worker National Education Collaborative
University of Arizona; information about development of CHW educational resources, services, curricula, and promising practice delivery strategies. On this website you can find the Community Health Worker National Education Collaborative project’s lessons learned guidebook entitled: Key considerations for opening doors: developing community health worker education programs and information about CHW training programs across the country.

Community Health Workers Evidence-Based Models Toolbox
HRSA’s Office of Rural Health Policy developed this resource based on an extensive literature review on CHW models that have been proven to work.

Community Health Workers in Rural Settings
Rural Assistance Center; this topic guide is designed to serve both as an introduction to Community Health Workers and as a reference that collects the “best of the best” resources: selected documents, organizations, tools, funding opportunities, news items, events, and program examples. The website also contains a CHW Toolkit, designed to help evaluate opportunities for developing a CHW program and provides resources developed by successful CHW programs.

Promoting Policy and Systems Change to Expand Employment of Community Health Workers
This course is designed to provide state programs and other stakeholders with basic knowledge about CHWs, such as official definitions of CHWs, workforce development, and other topic areas. In addition, the course covers how states can become engaged in policy and systems change efforts to establish sustainability for the work of CHWs, including examples of states that have proven success in this arena. 

APHA’s Community Health Worker Section
The Community Health Workers Section seeks to promote the community's voice within the health care system through development of the role of CHWs (including promotores de salud, community health representatives, community health advisors and related titles) and provides a forum to share resources and strategies.

Project on Community Health Worker Policy and Practice
University of Texas; the Project serves as a leadership resource for advancement of the CHW workforce through the provision of research, policy analysis and stakeholder education. 

Taking Innovation to Scale: Community Health Workers, Promotores, and the Triple Aim
A Statewide Assessment of the Roles and Contributions of California’s Community Health Workers.

Community Health Worker Health Disparities Initiative
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s CHW initiative aims to help reduce health disparities in underserved and minority communities across the United States, with a current focus on heart disease. The Initiative offers a range of training options and materials. 

Addressing Chronic Disease through Community Health Workers: A Policy and Systems-Level Approach
This document provides guidance and resources for implementing recommendations to integrate CHWs into community-based efforts to prevent chronic disease.

Financing Community Health Workers
This policy brief highlights the rationale for and methods that have been created to use available mainstream health care financing for CHW 

Wisconsin Community Health Worker Alliance

WICHWA is a statewide collaborative working to bridge the gap between health services and community-based prevention for vulnerable populations. Its mission is to transform community health through education, advocacy and research and to advance the professional CHW workforce. 

State Community Health Worker Models

Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance

Florida Community Health Worker Coalition

Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers

Oregon Community Health Worker Association

Washington Community Health Worker Training

Community Health Worker Network of New York City

APHA’s Community Health Worker Section