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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(2), 1873-1884; doi:10.3390/ijerph110201873
Article

Perceptions of Community Health Workers (CHWs/PS) in the U.S.-Mexico Border HEART CVD Study

1,†,* , 1,†
,
1,†
,
2
,
3
,
4
 and
4
1 School of Public Health, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, El Paso Regional Campus, 1101 N. Campbell CH 410, El Paso, TX 79902, USA 2 Project on Community Health Worker Policy and Practice, Institute for Health Policy, University of Texas School of Public Health, c/o El Paso Regional Campus, 1101 N. Campbell, CHS 410, El Paso, TX 79902, USA 3 Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training, Northern Arizona University, P.O. Box 15105, 208 E Pine Knoll Dr., Flagstaff, AZ 86004, USA 4 Department of Public Health Sciences, The University of Texas at El Paso, 500 W. University Ave., El Paso, TX 79968, USA These authors contributed equally to this work.
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 November 2013 / Revised: 30 January 2014 / Accepted: 30 January 2014 / Published: 10 February 2014
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Abstract

Although prior research has shown that Community Health Workers/Promotores de Salud (CHW/PS) can facilitate access to care, little is known about how CHW/PS are perceived in their community. The current study reports the findings of a randomized telephone survey conducted in a high-risk urban community environment along the U.S.-Mexico border. In preparation for a community-based CHW/PS intervention called the HEART ecological study, the survey aimed to assess perceptions of CHW/PS, availability and utilization of community resources (recreational and nutrition related) and health behaviors and intentions. A total of 7,155 calls were placed to complete 444 surveys in three zip codes in El Paso, Texas. Results showed that participants felt that healthful community resources were available, but utilization was low and variable: 35% reported going to a park, 20% reported having taken a health class, few reported using a gym (12%), recreation center (8%), or YMCA/YWCA (0.9%). Awareness and utilization of CHW/PS services were low: 20% of respondents had heard of CHW/PS, with 8% reporting previous exposure to CHW/PS services. Upon review of a definition of CHW/PS, respondents expressed positive views of CHW/PS and their value in the healthcare system. Respondents who had previous contact with a CHW/PS reported a significantly more positive perception of the usefulness of CHW/PS (p = 0.006), were more likely to see CHW/PS as an important link between providers and patients (p = 0.008), and were more likely to ask a CHW/PS for help (p = 0.009). Participants who utilized CHW/PS services also had significantly healthier intentions to reduce fast food intake. Future research is needed to evaluate if CHW/PS can facilitate utilization of available community resources such as recreational facilities among Hispanic border residents at risk for CVD.
Keywords: community health worker; Hispanics; cardiovascular disease; community health resources community health worker; Hispanics; cardiovascular disease; community health resources
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Balcazar, H.G.; Wise, S.; Redelfs, A.; Rosenthal, E.L.; de Heer, H.D.; Burgos, X.; Duarte-Gardea, M. Perceptions of Community Health Workers (CHWs/PS) in the U.S.-Mexico Border HEART CVD Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 1873-1884.

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