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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Arizona Researchers Explore Community Health Worker (CHW) Professional Advocacy

Affiliation with a professional network of Community Health Workers (CHWs) contributes to greater CHW engagement in professional advocacy on behalf of this diverse workforce, according to a recent National Community Health Worker Advocacy Survey (NCHWAS). Using a mixed-method study involving 1,661 CHWs in 47 states across the United States, Dr. Samantha Sabo and her colleagues at the Arizona Prevention Research Center, in the department of health promotion sciences, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, assessed the relationship between CHW professional advocacy and CHW demographics and work characteristics.

Dr. Samantha Sabo, DrPH
[Photo: Dr. Samantha Sabo]

Qualitative data explored professional advocacy efforts through responses to questions such as:  “Have you ever advocated for yourself as a community health worker or with other community health worker professionals?” and, “Describe a time when you advocated for yourself as a CHW or with other CHWs on behalf of your profession.”  Approximately one in 3 respondents reported that they had advocated for professional advancement or collaborated with other CHWs to advance the workforce.  Advocacy was more prevalent among CHWs affiliated with a professional network. CHW advocacy targeted recognition of the field, appropriate training and compensation, and sustainable funding.

Following their analysis, Dr. Sabo and her colleagues concluded that CHW professional advocacy is imperative to advancement of the field, stating that the NCHWAS clearly demonstrated CHWs’ engagement in several critical forms of professional advocacy, including promoting professional identity, increasing the public image of CHW roles and skills, and development and engagement of inter- and intraprofessional collaboration. Most importantly, Dr. Sabo and her colleagues found CHWs “to be actively involved in the promotion of workforce-related legislative and policy initiatives to advance and sustain the workforce.“

The article, “Community Health Worker Professional Advocacy: Voices of Action from the 2014 National Community Health Worker Advocacy Survey”, was published in the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, Issue: Volume 38(3), July/September, p 225–235.  Read more about the NCHWAS at the following link: