Organizational environments that employ community health workers (CHWs) play an important role in community advocacy when they encourage their CHWs to engage the people they serve in addressing policy and social determinants of health within their own communities. Assistant professor of Public Health, Dr. Kerstin Reinschmidt 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, conducted qualitative research to explore how participation in the Acción Para La Salud intervention, which trained CHWs in community advocacy, affected organizational capacity to support their CHWs.
Supervisors described improved organizational recognition and trust of CHWs within their organizations. Organizational leaders reported organizational benefits and increased appreciation of CHW leadership. Both expressed increased interest in future advocacy trainings for their organizations. Limiting factors included organizational mission, CHW position descriptions, and funding. Findings indicate that, with training and funding, CHW community advocacy can be integrated into organizations with congruent missions. Dr. Reinschmidt shares, “It was exciting for me to see how our community advocacy intervention study had an impact not only on the CHWs, but also on the organizational leaders who began to see their CHWs as the leaders they truly are.”
The article, “The Impact of Integrating Community Advocacy Into Community Health Worker Roles on Health-Focused Organizations and Community Health Workers in Southern Arizona”, was published in the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, Issue: Volume 38(3), July/September 2015, pp 244–253. Read more about the Arizona Prevention Research Center work with Community Health Workers, and Acción Para La Salud at the following link: http://azprc.arizona.edu