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In 2015, a group of CHWs and researcher allies came together for a weekend in Portland, Oregon. Using popular education methodology, they identified 10 process and 10 outcome constructs that should be measured in all CHW programs, regardless of the setting or community. They formed the national CHW Common Indicators Project.


Community Health Workers (CHWs) are trusted community members who promote health in their own communities through a variety of strategies. Growing out of natural healing and helping systems, the CHW model was formalized in communities that had been systematically denied health care and the conditions necessary for health. Thus, CHWs have always been dedicated to health and social equity. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing inequity and the climate crisis have underlined the domestic and global necessity for well-supported CHWs, who can conduct outreach, share health education, provide support for marginalized individuals and communities, and address the social and structural factors that put individuals and communities at increased risk for a range of health issues, from violence to chronic and communicable disease.



The body of peer-reviewed literature assessing outcomes of CHW programs in the US is substantial and growing. CHW interventions have been associated with significant improvements in health, prevention and management of chronic disease, more favorable utilization of health services, and reduced cost. However, the field has suffered from two important gaps: 1) Lack of CHW leadership and involvement in all phases of research, and 2) Lack of common process and outcome indicators that allow findings to be aggregated across programs and regions.



An Advisory Group was formed and met monthly to advance the work. This group grew to include 100+ CHWs, researcher and evaluator allies, program staff, and others. The team conducted multiple presentations at local, state, and national conferences to publicize the work and receive input on the constructs and indicators.


The project received 4 years of funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We formed a Leadership Team, a CHW Council, and a Researchers Council to lead the work. We developed 12 specific indicators to measure 11 previously-identified constructs and piloted the indicators with three community-based organizations, seven states, and one international site.


The team presented about the project and gathered input at multiple state and national conferences and conducted a national by-invitation Summit. We published two peer-reviewed articles, two blog posts, and a chapter in the UNESCO-published Handbook of Health Promotion Research. Additional funding was received from the CDC (via the Washington State Evaluation Partnership and Arizona State University) for CHWs for COVID Response and Resilient Communities (CCR).


The team received additional sources of funding. We developed and disseminated A Guide to Using the CHW Common Indicators, as well as a logo and website and embraced a broader identity and scope of work as the CHW Center for Research and Evaluation.


The distribution list for the Advisory Group now includes 300+ CHW leaders; deans and faculty at universities; community-based researchers/evaluators; leaders at local, state and federal health agencies; health system leaders; and leaders of culturally specific CBOs employing CHWs in more than 40 U.S. states and at least three countries.

Keara, Pennie and Susan at APHA 2022.png


Since its organizing Summit in 2015, CHWs have been at the forefront of the CHW Center for Research and Evaluation. Five of 16 attendees at the organizing Summit were CHWs, three of whom co-facilitated the Summit. CHWs have been actively involved in presenting about the project, participating on the project Leadership Team and Advisory Group, and publishing blogs and peer-reviewed journal articles about the project. Currently, the Center is guided by a Leadership Team, with a majority of CHW members, and a CHW Council, which is 100% CHW.

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