Community health workers can be a public health force for change in the United States: three actions for a new paradigm

Am J Public Health. 2011 Dec;101(12):2199-203. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300386. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


Community health workers (CHWs) have gained increased visibility in the United States. We discuss how to strengthen the roles of CHWs to enable them to become collaborative leaders in dramatically changing health care from "sickness care" systems to systems that provide comprehensive care for individuals and families and supports community and tribal wellness. We recommend drawing on the full spectrum of CHWs' roles so that they can make optimal contributions to health systems and the building of community capacity for health and wellness. We also urge that CHWs be integrated into "community health teams" as part of "medical homes" and that evaluation frameworks be improved to better measure community wellness and systems change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Community Health Workers*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Health Care Reform
  • Humans
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Public Health Administration
  • United States
  • Workforce