Behind Closed Doors: A Thematic Analysis of Diabetes Community Health Worker Home Visit Content

Fam Community Health. 2022 Oct-Dec;45(4):299-307. doi: 10.1097/FCH.0000000000000341.


The present work studies how community health workers (CHWs) perform the role of educator and how this relates to the implementation of other CHW roles, skills, and qualities. Prior studies on this topic have relied on interviews or focus groups rather than analysis of CHW interactions. We conducted a thematic analysis of 24 transcripts of conversations occurring between CHWs and participants during home visits as part of the Mexican American Trial of Community Health Workers, a randomized controlled trial that improved clinical outcomes among low-income Mexican American adults with type 2 diabetes. Three themes describing interactions related to diabetes self-management education accounted for about half of encounter content. The other half of encounter content was dedicated to interactions not explicitly related to diabetes described by 4 subthemes. In a successful CHW intervention, focused educational content was balanced with other interactions. Interactions not explicitly related to diabetes may have provided space for the implementation of core CHW roles, skills, and qualities other than educator, particularly those related to relationship building. It is important that interventions provide CHWs with sufficient time and flexibility to develop strong relationships with participants.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Health Workers*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Focus Groups
  • House Calls
  • Humans
  • Mexican Americans