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Adapting Community Health Worker Programs to Community Needs

Community health worker (CHW) programs typically incorporate characteristics from multiple CHW program models. A comprehensive community health needs assessment can help to identify community health priorities. From there, community agencies can convene to determine potential roles CHWs may fill and functions they may serve to address these needs, and which CHW models to use in designing a program. It is also beneficial to engage community members and other community stakeholders in identifying community needs and planning CHW programs, to ensure that the program is reflective of community needs.

CHW programs are most effective when tailored to address the needs of the population, as demonstrated by the Program Clearinghouse examples below:

  • Providing healthcare to individuals experiencing homelessness (Kodiak Community Health Center)
  • Working to reduce cardiovascular risk among rural African-American women by conducting community-wide educational classes on nutrition, physical activity, and smoking cessation (Delta Health Alliance)
  • Providing programs focused on diabetes prevention and control for first-generation immigrants (Ben Archer Health Center)
  • Conducting outreach to rural migrant and seasonal farmworkers (Family Health Centers)
  • Providing education and resources to help address social determinants of health including access to healthy food, housing, and transportation (University of Kentucky)

For additional information and considerations when adapting programs to community needs, see Considerations When Adapting a Program in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.