Common Elements of Definitions

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Woman holding the hands of another woman in a wheelchair.

The common elements of all of the definitions studied included that each:

  • Suggests membership in, or a special relationship with, community
  • Defines roles and functions
  • Suggests an underlying purpose, such as to:
    • Improve access
    • Promote equity


Many other definitions of CHW exist, although a growing number of states have adopted the APHA definition. Most of these definitions include some of the following elements:

  • They suggest or require that the CHW have some form of special relationship with the community served. This is an important topic, which we will address in Session 2
  • They specify a few basic roles or functions performed by CHWs
  • They suggest that the occupation of CHW exists for some underlying purpose, such as improving access to care or promoting health equity