Skip to main content

Community Health Worker Model

Community health workers (CHWs) are defined as people who

“Assist individuals and communities to adopt healthy behaviors. Conduct outreach for medical personnel or health organizations to implement programs in the community that promote, maintain, and improve individual and community health. May provide information on available resources, provide social support and informal counseling, advocate for individuals and community health needs, and provide services such as first aid and blood pressure screening. May collect data to help identify community health needs.”

Community health workers possess characteristics similar to the populations they serve. They may be paid or volunteer. Using CHWs for outreach has been shown to reduce barriers to care and improve health status for underserved populations.

Community health workers help patients:

  • Identify and access community resources to meet clinical and lifestyle goals
  • Interpreting and translating clinical information
  • Provide culturally appropriate health education
  • Provide social support

Lay-persons are another type of non-clinical support for patients. They are traditionally community members who also have diabetes and have developed effective self-management skills, allowing them to offer peer support and assistance. Similar to community health workers, they are culturally-competent individuals who can educate patients about diabetes, dietary habits, medications, and physical activity levels.

Resources to Learn More

Diabetes Management Certification
Training programs for this interested in becoming a new diabetes educator as well as continuing education for those already certified.
Organization(s): American Association of Diabetes Educators

American Association of Diabetes Educators Accredited Program Locations
Locations of certified diabetes educator programs in the United States.
Organization(s): American Association of Diabetes Educators

National Eye Health Education Program Toolkits
Provides CHWs with tools that will help educate diabetics about diabetes-related eye disease and the importance of maintaining healthy vision. Available in English and Spanish.
Organization(s): National Institute of Health

Diabetes Initiative: Program Models
The Community Health Center Model uses certified diabetes educators to help patients and primary care providers work together to address care management. This webpage provides program materials such as curriculum, self-management worksheets, and goal tracking. Materials are available in English and Spanish.
Organization(s): Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Special Diabetes Programs for Indians: Community Directed Diabetes Programs
Centralized location for information related to this grant program. Includes a section on diabetes best practices.
Organization(s): Indian Health Service

Translating an Evidence-based Diabetes Education Approach into Rural African-American Communities: The “Wisdom, Power, Control” Program
This study assessed the “Wisdom, Power, Control” self-management program and it's effectiveness in an African-American population. Adapting diabetes self-management and education programs is important in order to effectively address population needs.
Author(s): Pe├▒a-Purcell, N.C., Jiang, L., Ory, M.G., & Hollingsworth, R.
Citation: Diabetes Spectrum, 28(2),106-115
Date: 05/2015

National Diabetes Prevention Program
The NDPP is an evidence based prevention program developed by the CDC. This program consists of a series of classes run by a certified instructor to help the client make lifestyle changes to prevent prediabetes.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program
The YMCA is one location that uses the NDPP and a trained lifestyle coach to implement community based programs at different YMCA locations.
Organization(s): YMCA