A Systematic Review of Community Health Workers’ Role in Occupational Safety and Health Research

  • Jennifer E. Swanberg
  • Helen M. Nichols
  • Jessica M. Clouser
  • Pietra Check
  • Lori Edwards
  • Ashley M. Bush
  • Yancy Padilla
  • Gail Betz
Review Paper


We systematically reviewed the literature to describe how community health workers (CHWs) are involved in occupational health and safety research and to identify areas for future research and research practice strategies. We searched five electronic databases from July 2015 through July 2016. Inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) study took place in the United States, (2) published as a full peer-review manuscript in English, (3) conducted occupational health and safety research, and (4) CHWs were involved in the research. The majority of 17 included studies took place in the agriculture industry (76%). CHWs were often involved in study implementation/design and research participant contact. Rationale for CHW involvement in research was due to local connections/acceptance, existing knowledge/skills, communication ability, and access to participants. Barriers to CHW involvement in research included competing demands on CHWs, recruitment and training difficulties, problems about research rigor and issues with proper data collection. Involving CHWs in occupational health and safety research has potential for improving inclusion of diverse, vulnerable and geographically isolated populations. Further research is needed to assess the challenges and opportunities of involving CHWs in this research and to develop evidence-based training strategies to teach CHWs to be lay-health researchers.


Community health workers Occupational safety and health Latino workers 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Each author of this paper declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent/Human Research Protection

This is a systematic review of published articles. Institutional review board approval was not needed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Maryland School of Social WorkBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Center for Health Services Research, College of MedicineUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Public Health and Community MedicineTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  5. 5.University of Maryland School of NursingBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Health Sciences and Human Services LibraryUniversity of Maryland, BaltimoreBaltimoreUSA

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