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Community Health Workers

Community health workers (CHWs) are:

“Public health workers who are a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker 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.”

Community health workers serve multiple roles in their community and can improve access to care and reduce health disparities for people with disabilities in a number of ways. Some examples include:

  • Providing culturally-appropriate education and information to the clients they serve
  • Reducing transportation barriers by providing services in the client's home
  • Ensuring that individuals with disabilities are receiving all necessary health and social services
  • Conducting outreach and education activities throughout the community

Program Clearinghouse Examples

Resources to Learn More

Community Health Worker Addressing High Risk Disabilities and Older Adults
Presentation Slides
Provides an example of how the community health worker model has been applied to addressing the needs of older adult and individuals with disabilities in Maine.
Author(s): DiMascio, M., Gogan, T., Jones, C., & Cole, V.
Organization(s): Spectrum Generations and Seniors Plus
Date: 6/2015

Community Health Worker Interventions to Improve Access to Health Care Services for Older Adults from Ethnic Minorities: A Systematic Review
Document
Describes how community health workers are important in improving the healthcare use and health behaviors of community members.
Author(s): Verhagen, I., Steunenberg, B., de Wit, N.J., & Ros, W.J.G.
Location: BMC Health Services Research 2014 14:497
Date: 12/2013

Community Health Workers Toolkit
Website
Online toolkit providing information on developing a community health worker program in rural areas, including training materials and examples of program models.
Organization(s): Rural Health Information Hub

Community Health Workers: Promoting a Vital Workforce
Website
Gives information on how Massachusetts has supported and built the capacity of the community health workforce with the goal of improving access to care, reducing health disparities, and improving quality of care.
Organization(s): Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services

Support for Community Health Workers to Increase Health Access and to Reduce Health Inequities
Website
Describes the many roles that community health workers can play in improving health access and outcomes and addressing health disparities.
Organization(s): American Public Health Association