Information About CSHO
at the greatest health risk are often those who are least
likely to be appropriately served by the health care system.
Because of language barriers, financial barriers, cultural
beliefs, or mistrust of
the system, many people do not receive health care and preventive
The Center for Sustainable Health Outreach (CSHO) believes
community health workers are an important answer to this
problem. As members of the communities they serve, community
health workers provide culturally, linguistically, and otherwise
appropriate outreach, prevention, intervention, and treatment
services, which are based in, and reflect, the value systems
of the community.
In a number of communities across the United States, the
community health worker (CHW) is reemerging as a vital link
between communities and health care providers. CHWs educate
individuals and communities and facilitate access to needed
services. They provide formal and informal community-based
case management and case coordination services. They also
educate providers and health care systems and help craft
services that are more responsive to the communities being
served. They support community empowerment by providing
information, leadership, and advocacy
on issues impacting community health and well-being.
CSHO knows CHWs are an effective and efficient means of
improving community health by linking communities and health
CSHO provides support and technical assistance to community
health workers and CHW programs in the following areas:
development and support
funding and sustainability strategies
also assists CHWs and CHW programs by facilitating partnerships
with funders, policy makers, health systems, and community
organizations. The Center serves as a national point of
contact for CHWs and CHW programs and provides them with
reliable, up-to-date information on emerging trends in the
field. The Center for Sustainable Health Outreach operated
between 1999 and June 2005 as a joint venture between The
University of Southern Mississippi and the Harrison Institute
for Public Law of Georgetown University Law Center. The
University of Southern Mississippi took lead on issues related
to education, training and evaluation. The Georgetown University
staff took lead on policy and sustainability issues. After
June 2005, the institutions' budgets were separated, although
joint ventures are conducted when appropriate.
The Center for Sustainable Health Outreach was originally
funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration,
Office of Rural Health Policy.
of the Center for Sustainable Health Outreach (CSHO)
IS A COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER?
A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and culture competence of service delivery. A CHW also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy (APHA CHW SPIG, 2006)
health workers (CHWs) are community members who educate
and assist individuals and groups in gaining control over
their health and their lives. They promote healthy living
by providing education about preventing disease and injury
and by helping community residents understand and access
formal health and human service systems.
work within and as a complement to health care delivery
systems. Paid and volunteer CHWs are found in community
clinics, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations and
public health departments, among others.
community members, CHWs are able to integrate health
about prevention and the health system into the community’s
culture, language, and value systems. As a result, they
reduce cultural, linguistic, social, and financial barriers
to health care.
roles, responsibilities, and activities of CHWs vary greatly,
even within programs, depending on client and community
needs. CHWs’ roles include
are an effective and efficient means of improving community
health because they serve as a vital link between communities
and health care systems. They not only identify and link
people needing health or support services, they also coordinate
clients’ relationships with multiple service systems.
can be a valuable and cost effective way to
emergency room and hospital visits, length of hospital
stays, and the number of complications from certain
greater trust with clients, thus improving timely use
of medical services and better compliance with treatment
or health promotion instructions
connections with clients who are at the highest risk
of dropping out of the health care system
on individual needs associated with health care delivery
such as help obtaining non-medical services that reduce
barriers to medical care
of what CHWs can do:
individual and community health needs
care and case management
institutions about community norms, needs, culture,
individuals and families about prevention and access
more information, see the sources listed on our Toolkits
and Resources page.