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Rural Health Information Hub

Module 1: Introduction to Community Health Workers

Community health worker (CHW) is an umbrella term describing public health and/or social service workers who are close to and serve members of the community by helping them to adopt healthy behaviors. They may work for pay or as volunteers for a local agency, organization, or healthcare facility. CHWs share similarities with the community members they serve such as ethnicity, language, culture, socioeconomic status, values, and life experiences. In general, CHWs are:

  • Trusted members of the community they serve
  • Responsive to the needs of community members
  • Trained in the context of health interventions
  • Recognized by health services and certification authorities
  • Not necessarily certified as professionals or paraprofessionals

CHWs and their duties are as diverse as the communities they serve.

In this module: