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Article

Addressing Health Disparities in the Rural United States: Advocacy as Caregiving among Community Health Workers and Promotores de Salud

1
Department of Anthropology, Geography & Ethnic Studies, California State University Stanislaus, Turlock, CA 95382, USA
2
Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(24), 9223; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249223
Received: 6 November 2020 / Revised: 8 December 2020 / Accepted: 9 December 2020 / Published: 10 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Improving the Health of Rural, Minority Populations)
Rural populations in the United States are faced with a variety of health disparities that complicate access to care. Community health workers (CHWs) and their Spanish-speaking counterparts, promotores de salud, are well-equipped to address rural health access issues, provide education, and ultimately assuage these disparities. In this article, we compare community health workers in the states of Indiana and Texas, based on the results of two separate research studies, in order to (1) investigate the unique role of CHWs in rural communities and (2) understand how their advocacy efforts represent a central form of caregiving. Drawing on ethnographic, qualitative data—including interviews, photovoice, and participant observation—we analyze how CHWs connect structurally vulnerable clients in rural areas to resources, health education, and health and social services. Our primary contribution to existing scholarship on CHWs is the elaboration of advocacy as a form of caregiving to improve individual health outcomes as well as provoke structural change in the form of policy development. Finally, we describe how CHWs became especially critical in addressing disparities among rural populations in the wake of COVID-19, using their advocacy-as-caregiving role that was developed and well-established before the pandemic. These frontline workers are more vital than ever to address disparities and are a critical force in overcoming structural vulnerability and inequities in health in the United States. View Full-Text
Keywords: community health workers; promotores de salud; rural health; health disparities; advocacy; care; caregiving; COVID-19; pandemic; Indiana; Texas community health workers; promotores de salud; rural health; health disparities; advocacy; care; caregiving; COVID-19; pandemic; Indiana; Texas
MDPI and ACS Style

Logan, R.I.; Castañeda, H. Addressing Health Disparities in the Rural United States: Advocacy as Caregiving among Community Health Workers and Promotores de Salud. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 9223. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249223

AMA Style

Logan RI, Castañeda H. Addressing Health Disparities in the Rural United States: Advocacy as Caregiving among Community Health Workers and Promotores de Salud. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(24):9223. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249223

Chicago/Turabian Style

Logan, Ryan I., and Heide Castañeda. 2020. "Addressing Health Disparities in the Rural United States: Advocacy as Caregiving among Community Health Workers and Promotores de Salud" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 24: 9223. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249223

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