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Who Are Community Health Workers?

Community health workers (CHWs) are identified by many titles, including community health advisors, lay health advocates, Promotoras, outreach educators, community health representatives, peer health promoters and peer health educators.

According to a HRSA Community Health Workers National Workforce Study, CHWs:

  • Offer interpretation and translation services
  • Provide culturally appropriate health education and information
  • Assist people in receiving the care they need

In 2009, the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics created an occupation code for CHWs. This definition includes duties such as:

  • 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
  • Provide information on available resources
  • Provide social support and informal counseling
  • Advocate for individuals and community health needs
  • Provide services such as first aid and blood pressure screening
  • May collect data to help identify community health needs
  • Excludes ‘Health Educators’

Resources to Learn More

These resources provide in-depth information about who Community Health Workers are.

Community Health Workers National Workforce Study
Describes a comprehensive national study of the community health worker workforce and of the factors that affected its utilization and development in both urban and rural settings.
Organization: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions
Date: 3/2007

Community Health Workers: Part of the Solution
Journal Article
Traces how two states, Massachusetts and Minnesota, initiated comprehensive policies to foster far more utilization of community health workers and, in the case of Minnesota, to make their services reimbursable under Medicaid.
Health Affairs 29, NO. 7 (2010)
Date: 7/2010

Response to Comment on 2010 SOC: Multiple Dockets on Community Health Workers
Provides information about the occupational classification for CHWs.
Organization: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Date: 3/2009

Standard Occupational Classification: Community Health Workers
Standard occupational classification for community health workers.
Organization: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Date: 2010

Phone: 1-800-270-1898

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Funding for this project was supported by Grant Number U56RH05539 from the Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents of this website are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funder.