Community health workers then and now: an overview of national studies aimed at defining the field

J Ambul Care Manage. Jul-Sep 2011;34(3):247-59. doi: 10.1097/JAC.0b013e31821c64d7.


This article compares and contrasts 3 national studies of the US Community Health Worker (CHW) field spanning 15 years. Findings cover 4 areas of overlap among the 3 studies: CHW Demographics, Core Roles and Competencies, Training and Credentialing, and Career Advancement and Workforce Issues. Implications for the future development of research, practice, and policy are discussed. Authors observe that while health care reform has the potential for increasing funding and recognition of CHWs, it is essential that policies support the full range of CHW roles, including CHWs role as change agents, so that CHWs achieve their full potential to improve health outcomes, reduce health disparities, and work for social justice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Certification*
  • Community Health Services / trends*
  • Community Health Workers / education
  • Community Health Workers / trends*
  • Humans
  • Professional Role
  • United States
  • Workforce