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Health Educ Behav. 1997 Aug;24(4):510-22.

Community health workers: who they are and what they do.

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Department of Health Education at San Francisco State University, CA 94132, USA.


Community health workers (CHWs) are community members who serve as frontline health care professionals. They generally work with the underserved and are indigenous to the community in which they work-ethnically, linguistically, socioeconomically, and experientially. This article presents the results of a survey of 197 systematically selected health care providers in eight Bay Area counties. The authors found that 25% of the health care providers in these eight counties hire CHWs. The hiring projections indicate that opportunities are expanding for these frontline professionals; the majority of growth is in public health departments and community-based organizations. The majority of CHWs are women (66%) of color (77%) with a high school degree or less (58%). A total of 44% earn an annual salary of $20,00 to $25,000; 30% make more than $25,001. AIDS and maternal and child health are the two major content foci of CHW work.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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