Training Community Health Workers to be Advocates for Health Promotion: Efforts Taken by a Community-Based Organization to Reduce Health Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease
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- Boutin-Foster, C., George, K.S., Samuel, T. et al. J Community Health (2008) 33: 61. doi:10.1007/s10900-007-9074-4
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Compared to white adults, blacks are less likely to be aware of their cardiovascular risk factors and are less likely to respond appropriately to signs and symptoms of a myocardial infarction or stroke. This fact highlights the need for better dissemination of health information about cardiovascular disease among communities of color. Community health workers (CHWs) are important resources for disseminating health information. Recognizing this important role of CHWs, the Greater Southern Brooklyn Health Coalition and its community and academic partners developed a workshop designed to educate CHWs about the risk factors, signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease. The purpose of this workshop was to educate CHWs so that they themselves could be better informed and thus, be in a better position to educate their respective clients. The resulting workshop, Taking Action Against Cardiovascular Disease in Our Communities: A Training for Service Providers, was a half-day workshop attended by 70 CHWs from various community service organizations. Approximately 97% of attendees said that the workshop met their expectations. More than half said they learned the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease and about 90% said that they received clear and concrete information that they could use with their clients. These evaluations also provided critiques regarding aspects of the workshop that could be improved upon and other information which will be used as a formative tool in developing future educational initiatives. In conclusion, this workshop demonstrated that it was feasible to develop effective community programs targeted at educating CHWs about cardiovascular disease.