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Just what is a CHW, anyway?

Community health workers (CHWs) are a health equity workforce.

CHWs come from the communities they serve, sharing identities, geography, and experiences. This commonality uniquely qualifies CHWs to relate with and provide support to people in their community. By addressing barriers to care that occur within different language, cultural, and socioeconomic identities, CHWs improve health outcomes and advancing health equity.

CHWs are trusted, knowledgeable frontline health personnel who come from the communities they serve.

Proven Cost-Savings

CHW strategies save money while improving care which helps individuals return to health, their family, community, and jobs. CHWs:

  • Help clients access care and increase use of primary and preventive care 2,3
  • Generate net cost savings through decreased use of urgent care, emergency care, hospitalizations, hospital readmissions, inpatient, and outpatient behavioral health care4
  • Have a return on investment of $3 for every $1 invested5

Improved Health

CHWs provide culturally competent care increasing trust in the healthcare system. Improved health outcomes saves the healthcare system money. Improved outcomes include but not limited to:

  • Asthma 6,7
  • Diabetes8
  • cardiovascular disease8
  • COVID-19 prevention and mitigation9
  • increased cancer screenings10
The Quadruple Aim: Improving Population Health; Reducing Cost of Care; Enhancing the Patient Experience; Improving Provider Satisfaction.


1. Strategies for Quality Care website. Accessed November 22, 2022.
2. Attipoe-Dorcoo, S., et al., Engaging Community Health Workers to Increase Cancer Screening: A Community Guide Systematic Economic Review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2021. 60(4): p. e189-e197.

3. Kangovi, S., et al., Evidence-Based Community Health Worker Program Addresses Unmet Social Needs And Generates Positive Return On Investment. Health Affairs, 2020. 39(2): p. 207-213.
4. Rodriguez, N.M., et al., Indiana community health workers: challenges and opportunities for workforce development. BMC Health Services Research, 2022. 22(1): p. 117.

5. Rush, C.H., Return on investment from employment of community health workers. J Ambul Care Manage, 2012. 35(2): p. 133-7.
6. Coutinho, M.T., et al., Community Health Workers’ Role in Supporting Pediatric Asthma Management: A Review. Clin Pract Pediatr Psychol, 2020. 8(2): p. 195-210.

7. Shreeve, K., et al., Community Health Workers in Home Visits and Asthma Outcomes. Pediatrics, 2021. 147(4).
8. Jacob, V., et al., Economics of Community Health Workers for Chronic Disease: Findings From Community Guide Systematic Reviews. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2019. 56(3): p. e95-e106.

9. Grier-McEachin, J., Sidebar: Community Health Worker Prevention Services: COVID-19 and Beyond. North Carolina Medical Journal, 2021. 82(5): p. 353-355.
10. The Community Guide website. interventions-engaging-community-health-workers-cervical-cancer.html. Accessed November 22, 2022.

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