Advantages of Community Health Workers in Rural Programs
Community health workers (CHWs) help to connect community members to available services and resources. They
provide benefits to individuals, communities, providers, and payers. Since CHWs are often members of the
communities they serve, and rural communities typically have strong community connections, CHWs have an
Develop trusting, one-on-one relationships with patients
Act as a liaison between the healthcare system, patients, and families/caregivers
Gain support from other organizations serving the community
Strengthen care coordination by
connecting patients with available healthcare and social support services
Extend the reach of healthcare providers and services, which is particularly helpful in areas with shortages
Deliver services that are appropriate based on the patient's language and culture
Give back to their communities
Access to healthcare services is critical to good health, yet rural
residents face a variety of access barriers. By promoting access to healthcare services, CHWs can help improve
health outcomes and quality of life in rural communities. Integrating CHWs as a member of the care delivery
team, so they are working alongside physicians, nurses, and other healthcare staff, is an effective strategy for
achieving improvements in health outcomes. Incorporating CHWs as a member of the care delivery team also frees
up resources and enables rural healthcare professionals to focus on more complex patients and issues.
Resources to Learn More
Health Workers National Workforce Study
Reports on a national study of the CHW workforce and the factors affecting its utilization and development in
urban and rural settings.
Organization(s): Health Resources and Services Administration
Outcomes of Community
Reports the findings from a systematic review of previous studies published from 1980 to 2008 on the
characteristics and outcomes of CHW interventions, their cost-effectiveness, and training.
Author(s): Viswanathan, M., Kraschnewski, J., Nishikawa, B., et al.
Organization(s): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)