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Am J Public Health. 2016 Apr;106(4):664-70. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302980. Epub 2016 Jan 21.

Characterizing Community Health Workers on Research Teams: Results From the Centers for Population Health and Health Disparities.

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Sarah D. Hohl and Beti Thompson are with the Cancer Prevention Program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the Department of Health Services, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle. Jessica L. Krok-Schoen, Rory C. Weier, and Electra D. Paskett are with the Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Ohio State University (OSU), Columbus. Molly Martin is with the Department of Pediatrics, University of Illinois at Chicago. Lee Bone is with the Department of Health Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD. William J. McCarthy and Nancy E. Calderón are with the Department of Health Policy and Management, University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health. Sabrina E. Noel is with the Department of Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Beverly Garcia is with the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.



To quantify the characteristics of community health workers (CHWs) involved in community intervention research and, in particular, to characterize their job titles, roles, and responsibilities; recruitment and compensation; and training and supervision.


We developed and administered a structured questionnaire consisting of 25 closed- and open-ended questions to staff on National Institutes of Health-funded Centers for Population Health and Health Disparities projects between March and April 2014. We report frequency distributions for CHW roles, sought-after skills, education requirements, benefits and incentives offered, and supervision and training activities.


A total of 54 individuals worked as CHWs across the 18 research projects and held a diverse range of job titles. The CHWs commonly collaborated on research project implementation, provided education and support to study participants, and collected data. Training was offered across projects to bolster CHW capacity to assist in intervention and research activities.


Our experience suggests national benefit in supporting greater efforts to recruit, retain, and support the work of CHWs in community-engagement research.

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