Who are community health workers and what do they do? development of an empirically-derived reporting taxonomy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes


OBJECTIVES: To develop an empirically-informed reporting taxonomy for Community Health Worker (CHW) services to address concerns about the transparency and consistency of descriptions of these interventions in the existing literatureMETHODS: We undertook in-depth interviews (n=43) with CHWs and service staff working in four case studies selected using maximum variation sampling. Interviewees were encouraged to talk about the service, how they had become involved with the service, the CHW role and relationship with clients.RESULTS: Thematic analysis identified recurrent cross-case observations which we classed as ‘who CHW are’and ‘what CHW do’. CHW’s personal characteristics comprised the sub-groups Knowledge & Skills, Personal Qualities, Similarity to Client, and Voluntary/Paid Status; Role characteristics comprised Time & Continuity, Settings, limited Responsibility, Core Task, and Enacted Philosophies.CONCLUSIONS: We have developed a conceptual framework for reporting CHW interventions based on the existing literature and our own empirical work. Compared with existing work in the field, the taxonomy uses nomenclature that minimises current overlap and confusion, and provides a more complete description of CHW characteristics.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Public Health
Early online date7 Apr 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Apr 2017


  • Health promotion, Heath Services, Socioeconomics factors