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Health Educator Model

In this model, community health workers (CHWs) deliver health education to the target population. The Community Preventive Services Task Force finds sufficient evidence of effectiveness for interventions that engage CHWs for health education… to increase self-reported health behaviors (physical activity, healthful eating habits, and smoking cessation) for patients at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

CHWs may provide health education related to disease prevention, screenings, and healthy behaviors. Examples of health education topics include:

  • Chronic disease prevention
  • Nutrition
  • Physical activity
  • Smoking cessation
  • Stress management
  • Health screenings
  • Pesticide safety and environmental hazards (for example: colonias, or rural communities, along the U.S.-Mexico border where families live in close proximity to agricultural fields)

CHWs may also educate healthcare providers about community needs, bridging cultural gaps between providers and communities.

Examples of Health Educator Models

  • Disabled Adults Oral Health Initiative is a program in rural Maryland that uses CHWs to educate and connect adults with disabilities to oral health services. Educational topics include brushing and flossing, eating a healthy diet, drinking fluoridated water, visiting the dentist regularly, and finding services.
  • In rural Oregon and Washington, One Community Health's Wellness Program use bilingual CHWs to provide education to improve diet, physical activity, and stress management.
  • In Ely, Minnesota, through the Northern Lights Clubhouse (NLC), a CHW provides outreach and follow-up services to connect behavioral health clients to a community care team. The CHW develops educational programming, provides employment support, and works to reduce isolation among clients.

Implementation Considerations

CHWs often attend trainings on cultural competency so that they may provide health education that is effective for the population they are serving and sensitive to patients' values and experiences. In particular, CHW programs serving populations in border communities must ensure that their CHWs deliver culturally appropriate health education and nutrition information. CHWs that are delivering health education in an outreach situation (e.g., home visiting) will also need additional training to ensure that they understand the scope of their work and the steps to take in case of an emergency.

Resources to Learn More

Community Health Workers/Promotores de Salud: Critical Connections in Communities
Highlights pivotal role of CHWs in treating diabetes in communities. The page also links to several strategies from the early 2000's documenting the history and contributions of CHWs in the study of diabetes prevention.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 5/2011

Health Education Materials
Presents tools tailored for various ethnic communities that CHWs can use when providing health education.
Organization(s): National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Improvement of Rural Children's Asthma Self-Management Skills by Lay Health Educators
This study shows that asthma-education, delivered by lay-health workers, can be an effective way to increase self-management for rural children of various ethnicities.
Author(s): Horner, S.D., & Fouladi, R.T.
Citation: Journal of School Health, 78:9, 506-513
Date: 2008

Personal Health Diary
Personal health weekly diary that allows a person to track their blood pressure, steps per day, sodium intake, fruits, vegetables, stress management activities, and medications.
Organization(s): Clemson University
Date: 2006