A community health worker intervention to address the social determinants of health through policy change

Maia Ingram, Ken A Schachter, Samantha J Sabo, Kerstin M Reinschmidt, Sofia Gomez, Jill Guernsey De Zapien, Scott C Carvajal
Journal of Primary Prevention 2014, 35 (2): 119-23
Public policy that seeks to achieve sustainable improvements in the social determinants of health, such as income, education, housing, food security and neighborhood conditions, can create positive and sustainable health effects. This paper describes preliminary results of Acción para la Salud, a public health intervention in which Community health workers (CHWs) from five health agencies engaged their community in the process of making positive systems and environmental changes. Academic-community partners trained Acción CHWs in community advocacy and provided ongoing technical assistance in developing strategic advocacy plans. The CHWs documented community advocacy activities through encounter forms in which they identified problems, formulated solutions, and described systems and policy change efforts. Strategy maps described the steps of the advocacy plans. Findings demonstrate that CHWs worked to initiate discussions about underlying social determinants and environment-related factors that impact health, and identified solutions to improve neighborhood conditions, create community opportunities, and increase access to services.

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