For underserved and disenfranchised communities in the United States, affordable, effective health care can be nearly inaccessible, which often leads to the exclusion of these communities from relevant medical information and care. Barriers to care are especially salient in minority communities, where language, traditions and customs, socioeconomics, and access to education can serve as additional roadblocks to accessing health care information and services. These factors have contributed to a national health disparity crisis that unnecessarily places some communities in a vulnerable position without adequate prevention and treatment opportunities. One solution to the exclusion some communities face in the health care system may be the promotores de salud (PdS)/community health worker (CHW), an approach to culturally competent health care delivery whose popularity in the mainstream health care system has been steadily growing in recent decades. Known by a wide variety of names and broad in the spectrum of health issues they address, the PdS/CHW serves as cultural brokers between their own community and the formal health care system and can play a crucial role in promoting health and wellness within their community. This annotated bibliography was created to educate the reader about the history, definition, key features, utility, outcomes, and broad potential of the CHW approach in a variety of populations. Intended to serve as a reference point to a vast body of information on the CHW/PdS approach, this document is a resource for those wishing to effect change in the disparities within the health care system, and to improve the access to, quality, and cost of health care for underserved patients and their communities. Promotores de Salud is a Spanish term that translates to Health Promoter. A female health worker may be referred to as a Promotora, a male as a Promotor, and the plural of both is Promotores. For the purposes of this bibliography, the terms community health worker and promotores de salud may be used interchangeably.
Macalester College, Colorado Clinical Translational Science Institute, University of Colorado at Denver.
Correspondence: John M. Westfall, MD, MPH, Department of Family Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus, 12631 East 17th, Mail Stop F496, Aurora, CO 80045 (Jack.firstname.lastname@example.org).
This study was supported by NIH/NCRR Colorado CTSI grant UL1 RR025780. Contents are the authors' sole responsibility and do not necessarily represent official NIH views.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.