Evaluating community health workers' attributes, roles, and pathways of action in immigrant communities

Nadia Islam, Ephraim Shapiro, Laura Wyatt, Lindsey Riley, Jennifer Zanowiak, Rhodora Ursua, Chau Trinh-Shevrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Community health workers (CHWs) are uniquely positioned to improve health outcomes in immigrant communities; however, research on appropriate metrics for evaluating CHW attributes and mechanisms of effectiveness are limited. The objective of this paper is to characterize CHW attributes and pathways of action using adapted measures, develop a scale using these measures, and explore how findings can inform future CHW research and practice. The study analyzed pre- and post-intervention group data from one quasi-experimental and three randomized controlled-design parent trials assessing the impact of CHW-led group and individual health coaching on various health outcomes in four New York City immigrant communities. We conducted descriptive, bi-variate and principal components analysis to develop a 13-item scale assessing CHW attributes, roles, and pathways of action. The sample included 437 individuals completing the intervention arm of a CHW study. We found CHWs were reported to affect change through a number of mechanisms and participants expressed substantial communal concordance with the CHWs in terms of country of birth, language, and culture. Principal components analysis with promax rotation identified 13 items with three factors and high Cronbach's alphas: 1) valued interpersonal attributes of the CHW (alpha = 0.784); 2) CHW as a bridge to health and non-health resources (alpha = 0.857); and 3) providing accessibility beyond health providers (alpha = 0.904). Socio-demographic characteristics and differences in CHW pathways of action were identified by community. Study findings can guide improved selection and training of CHWs. Further, measures identified in the principal components analysis can be used to guide future CHW evaluation efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Community health workers
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Health promotion
  • Immigrant health
  • Minority health
  • Program evaluation

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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