Helpful Definitions:

American Public Health Association (APHA) definition of Community Health Worker

CHWs work under many different job titles such as Promotor(a) de Salud,Outreach Worker, Peer Educator and Patient Navigator. They are recognized by the Department of Labor as Standard Occupational Classification 21-1094 effective January 2010. The following definition adopted by the CHW Section is included in the 2009 APHA Policy Statement on CHWs ( policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1393):

“A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.

A CHW also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.”

Office of Minority Health Definition of Promotores de Salud

Promotores de Salud/Community Health Workers (CHWs) are volunteer community members and paid frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the community served. Promotores de Salud/Community Health Workers (CHWs) generally share the ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, and life experiences of the community members they serve. These social attributes and trusting relationships enable CHWs to serve as a liaison, link, or intermediary between health and social services and the community to facilitate access to and enrollment in services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service. Promotores/CHWs can enhance provider-patient communication; preventive care; adherence to treatment, follow-up, and referral; disease self-management; and navigation of the healthcare system. Additionally Promotores/CHWs build individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy among communities such as Hispanic/Latino communities.*

*Adapted from the American Public Health Association, 2009, Community Health Workers National Workforce Study (HRSA) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

  1. Community Health Workers Section, American Public Health Association. Available at .
  2. Community Health Workers National Workforce Study (HRSA) [PDF | 1.1MB]
  3. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, PL. 111-148, sec 5101, 5102, 5313, 5403, and 3509. [PDF | 5.4MB]

(From the Department of Minority Health)


Bureau of Labor and statistics (BLS)      

Standard Occupational Classification(SOC)

21-1094 Community Health Workers
Assist individuals and communities to adopt healthy behaviors. Conduct outreach for medical personnel or health organizations to implement programs in the community that promote, maintain, and improve individual and community health. May provide information on available resources, provide social support and informal counseling, advocate for individuals and community health needs, and provide services such as first aid and blood pressure screening. May collect data to help identify community health needs. Excludes “Health Educators” (21-1091). ( Currently under review )  

Peer Support Specialist  

A Peer Support Specialist is a person who has progressed in their own recovery from alcohol or other drug abuse or mental disorder and is willing to self-identify as a peer and work to assist other individuals with chemical dependency or a mental disorder. Because of their life experience, such persons have expertise that professional training cannot replicate.[1] This is not to be confused with peer educators who may not consider recovery a suitable goal for everyone and may focus instead on the principles of harm reduction.

There are many tasks performed by peer support specialists that may include assisting their peers in articulating their goals for recovery, learning and practicing new skills, helping them monitor their progress, assisting them in their treatment, modeling effective coping techniques and self-help strategies based on the specialist’s own recovery experience, and supporting them in advocating for themselves to obtain effective services.

Supervised Sample Duties Include:

  • Provide individualized support to coach wellness, resiliency and recovery
  • Facilitate Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) & other Health Management groups, ex. Diabetes
  • Model coping skills and self-help strategies
  • Assist in development of Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) & related school-based services
  • Educate, advocate & mentor families & parents in navigating systems & community services
  • Liaison to services for wellness needs, community resources, groups & natural supports

“Peer Specialist Training and Certification Programs A National Overview” 
( 101 pages; September 2012)

Laura Kaufman, M.A.
Wendy Brooks, M.A.
Michelle Steinley-Bumgarner, M.A.
Stacey Stevens-Manser, Ph.D.

The Center for Social Work Research
University of Texas at Austin
1717 West 6th
Austin, Texas 78703
Street, Suite 335
Phone: (512) 232-0616
Fax: (512) 232-0617


The Mission of the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants 

Workforce development and capacity building definitions:

Apprentice – a person who works for another in order to learn a trade

Capacitate – to enable; to make qualified; to render fit

Certification – the act of certifying a certificate attesting the truth of some statement or event

Competent -having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, for some purpose; properly qualified

Continuing Education – Ongoing learning to acquire additional skills

Credential -evidence of authority, status, rights, entitlement to privileges, or the like, usually in written form

Credentialing – to grant credentials to, especially educational and professional ones

Education – the act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge or skills, as for a profession.

Internship– any official or formal program to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession ( can be paid or unpaid)

Lived Experience-to have first-hand knowledge of states, situations, emotions, or sensations

Motivational Interviewing:  a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change.  It is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion. (Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change. William R Miller, PhD, Stephen Rollnick, PhD. Guilford Press, Sep 2012.) 

On the Job Training-On-the-job training, also known as OJT, is teaching the skills, knowledge, and competencies that are needed to perform a specific job within the workplace and work environment.

Popular Education Popular education is based on the idea that, whether we are farmworkers, doctors, waitresses or lawyers, we all know a lot as a result of our life experience. Therefore, educators and organizers should always start with what people already know and build on it.

Skill–  (Accomplishment) an ability that has been acquired by training