Community Health Workers


Several NYU-CUNY PRC initiatives promote the community health worker (CHW) model to build capacity and leadership in Asian American communities. Learn more about CHW policy, conferences, and resources by visiting these pages: CHW policy, CHW conferences and learning exchanges, and CHW resources.

Role of Community Health Workers

Community members serving as frontline health workers are referred to by several names, including
  • community health workers (CHWs)
  • community aides
  • promotoras
  • lay health workers (Love, Gardner, & Legion, 1997; CDC, 1998)
CHWs are indigenous to the community in which they work, providing them with a unique understanding of the norms, attitudes, values, and strengths of community members (Love et al., 1997).   
The Pew Health Professions Commission (1994) asserts that incorporation of CHWs into the health care system will improve the delivery of preventive and primary care to America’s diverse communities.
CHWs take on multiple roles in the healthcare system:
  • bringing in individuals unfamiliar to the health care system
  • providing cultural linkages and social support
  • overcoming distrust
  • contributing to building the patient-provider communication
  • providing patient and community education and counseling
  • monitoring health status and assuring adherence to medical regimines
  • enhancing adherence to care (Brownstein et al., 2005)