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Community Health Workers Promote Civic Engagement and Organizational Capacity to Impact Policy

Abstract

Community health workers (CHW) have historically served to link structurally vulnerable populations to broad support systems. Emerging evidence suggests that CHWs engage in various forms of advocacy to promote policy and systems change. We assessed the impact of CHW community advocacy on community change, defined as civic engagement, organizational capacity and policy and systems change. Data are drawn from the 2014 National Community Health Worker Advocacy Survey (N = 1776) aimed to identify the state of the CHW profession, and their impact on health disparities through community advocacy and policy engagement. Our primary analysis used multiple linear regression to assess the association between CHW advocacy and community change. As predicted, there was a significant, positive association between CHW advocacy and change in community conditions. Additionally, both adjusted and sensitivity models had similar standardized beta estimates for advocacy, and adjusted R 2 statistics. CHW advocacy predicts positive change in community conditions and further advances the CHW Community Advocacy Framework designed to support and monitor CHW community advocacy to reduce health disparities through advocacy and policy change.

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Acknowledgements

The Arizona Prevention Research Center is a member of the Prevention Research Centers Program, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cooperative agreement number U48-DP001925. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Correspondence to Samantha Sabo.

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Sabo, S., Flores, M., Wennerstrom, A. et al. Community Health Workers Promote Civic Engagement and Organizational Capacity to Impact Policy. J Community Health 42, 1197–1203 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-017-0370-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-017-0370-3

Keywords

  • Community health worker
  • Policy
  • Advocacy
  • Leadership
  • Health disparities