Grantee Publication

Addressing social determinants of health through community health workers: A call to action

Summary:

Community health workers (CHWs) have a unique understanding of the experience, language, culture, and socioeconomic reality of the communities that they serve. They apply this unique understanding to make a distinctive contribution to improving health outcomes. A body of evidence indicates that CHWs play an important role in improving health through enhancing clinical outcomes and by addressing the social conditions that impact health status, called social determinants of health.

Currently, CHW services are supported through a patchwork of largely vulnerable grant funding in most areas of the country. However, a combination of factors present the potential for development of a sustainable financing system for CHW services sustained through healthcare funding.

As part of its Community Health Insurance Reform for the People II project, the Hispanic Health Council sought to develop evidence-based policy recommendations that would promote widespread support for community-based CHW services with sufficient resources to address SDOH. The goal of these recommendations is to promote healthcare policy, specifically related to CHW services, which will best serve the needs of members of communities most affected by health inequities. With grant support from the Connecticut Health Foundation, the HHC convened a group of CHW policy experts to conduct policy research and analysis to inform development of these policy recommendations.

Authors:

This policy brief was produced by the Hispanic Health Council in partnership with Southwestern AHEC and a panel of community health worker policy research experts.