Community Health Workers
Community Health Workers (CHW) are effective front line public health workers who are trusted members of vulnerable populations because they share the same ethnicity, language, and life experiences as the communities they serve. CHWs are known by many titles, including Promotoras de salud (Promotoras) who represent and serve Latino/a communities and Community Health Representatives (CHRs) who represent and serve primarily American Indian and Alaskan Native communities.
The Institute of Medicine and the Community Preventive Services Task Force conclude that CHWs are effective and contribute to patient and community-centered coordination between social supports and primary care through community outreach, wellness education, and disease management. CHWs’ core competencies of social support, capacity building, and advocacy also improve the social determinants of health, such as housing, food security and social connectedness, which are predictive of enhanced quality of life and health outcomes for all people. By utilizing their unique position within the community, coupled with skills and training, CHWs build health equity––vital to our mission at CHER.
CHER researchers are dedicated to advancing and sustaining the CHW workforce locally and nationally through research, advocacy and policy. To do so, we engage in several collaborative efforts including:
Advocacy and Policy
Board Membership, Arizona Community Health Worker Association (AzCHOW)
AzCHOW is a statewide organization of community-based advocates. AzCHOW provides an opportunity for Community Health Workers (CHWs) to speak with a collective voice, and has been advocating for the work of CHWs in Arizona since 2001. We lead through resource sharing, partnership development, education, outreach, health promotion, and disease prevention strategies to improve the health of Arizona residents.
Dr. Samantha Sabo serves as the secretary.
Learn more about AzCHOW at their website.
Board Membership, Community Health Representative Coalition (CHRC)
The CHR Coalition is a long-standing collaborative with a five-year history of partnered efforts to understand, strengthen, and sustain the CHR workforce and improve American Indian health. Partners possess distinct and complementary professional training, organizational missions, and stakeholder networks within academia, service delivery, assessment, and policy, inclusive of health department leadership of 22 Arizona Tribes and 19 CHR programs. Since 2015, and in direct response to state and national CHW workforce policy trends towards standardization and certification, coalition members collaborate to plan and implement annual CHR Policy Summits and Workforce Conferences. Much desired by the workforce, Policy Summits create the space for CHRs and CHR stakeholders in research, healthcare, policy, and payers to dialogue and plan for the unique issues and opportunities facing CHR workforce sustainability and advancement, including federal shifts to eliminate the program entirely. Policy Summit planning has since resulted in the formation of the Arizona CHR Workforce Coalition, which meets monthly to plan and advocate for inclusion of CHRs in state and national level dialogue.
Dr. Samantha Sabo is a founding member and an active member of the CHR Coalition.
Learn more about the CHRC at the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care website.
Board Membership, Arizona Community Health Worker Coalition
The Arizona Community Health Worker Workforce Coalition is a network of organizations collaborating with the Arizona Community Health Worker Outreach Network (AzCHOW) to support the sustainability of the Arizona CHW workforce. The Coalition is comprised of CHWs, including Promotores de Salud, Community Health Representatives, Community Health Advisors and other related titles, and the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and State and Local Health Departments, Community Health Centers, Community Colleges, Not for Profit Organizations and Area Health Education Centers.
Dr. Samantha Sabo is a founding member and an active member of the Coalition.
Learn more about the CHW Coalition at the Community Health Worker Workforce Coalition website.
Research and Evaluation
Community Health Worker Workforce
Community Health Worker Workforce: Assessment of the Integration and Financing of Community Health Workers within Arizona Medicaid Health Plans
In response to shifts supporting the integration of the Community Health Worker (CHW) workforce into public health and health care systems, the Center for Health Equity Research at Northern Arizona University interviewed leadership of all Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) contracted health plans to assess innovations in CHW workforce integration and financing.
Read the full report.
Community Health Representative Workforce
Community Health Representative Workforce Assessment
Since 2015, community and academic partners of the Northern Arizona University Center for Health Equity Research (NAU CHER), the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care (AACIHC), the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona Tribal Epidemiology Center (ITCA TEC), the Phoenix Area Indian Health Service (PAIHS), and over 20 Tribal health department and CHR programs have come together to produce seminal CHR workforce studies.
Read the CHR report.
Read the CHR evaluation.
CHER has numerous collaborative publications on the CHW workforce.
Learn more about the CHW workforce.