Profiles, perceptions and motivations of Community Health Workers of NGOs in a border city of US-Mexico

Beatriz Alfaro-Trujillo, Ana M Valles-Medina, Adriana C Vargas-Ojeda
Journal of Community Health 2012, 37 (3): 583-90
To analyze the profile, perceptions and motivations of Community Health Workers (CHWs) from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the border city of US-Mexico and to describe the type of community interventions they perform. we surveyed 121 CHWs from 9 NGOs participating in a monthly meeting between May and July of 2009. Each participating CHW answered a structured questionnaire. Furthermore, two focus groups were held, in which 10 and 8 CHWs participated, respectively. Qualitative and quantitative analyses were carried out on the data obtained. 70% of the CHWs had 9 years or less of formal education. With respect to community work, 61% volunteered between 1 and 5 h weekly; only 40% received some form of economic support. The most commonly reported activities were distribution of informational materials (59.5%) and promotion of health fairs (52.9%). Analysis of focus group discussions lead to the development of four conceptual categories: personal development, motivation, perception of their community participation and institutional relationship, some of the testimonies are "…just because the people do not respond does not mean we give up. No, we must work, persist, promote and raise awareness of the people…", "…when they compensate us, it is not really a payment. We are there because we get results, we do it happily… It is voluntary…" CHWs are an important human resource for communities. Institutions focusing on primary care should view these community players as social capital, which could improve the effectiveness of prevention strategies and achieve greater coverage of health services.

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