Date of Award

6-30-2016

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Allison Anders

Abstract

Community health workers (CHW) programs are an important emerging strategy to address the rising cost of health care, the shortage of healthcare staff, and the lack of accessible, affordable and quality health care (Sanders & Lehmann, 2007; WHO, 2010; CDC, 2012). The American Public Health Association (APHA) defines community health worker (CHWs) as frontline public health workers, trusted members of their communities and individuals that have a unique understanding of the people and communities they serve. CHWs develop trusting relationships that enable them to serve as an intermediary between healthcare, social services providers, and community members. By doing so, they facilitate culturally responsive patient-centered health care (APHA, 2010). Researchers have demonstrated CHW programs are effective interventions for increasing positive health outcomes in the management of chronic diseases (WHO, CDC, 2012). Missing from the literature is information regarding the nature of the cultural context of CHWs programs in primary health care settings with diverse populations.

The purpose of this ethnographic case study was to gain insight into the culture of CHW programs in primary health care (PHC). I explored CHW programs at three PHC sites in SC to craft rich descriptions of the provisions of CHW services from the perspectives of the people engaged in the day to day activities. The aim was to understand better the CHW services, the roles, and responsibilities CHWs provide in PHC. I identify and discuss the mechanisms in which CHWs provide culturally responsive services. I share and discuss the perception of the CHW services from the people receiving these services.

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