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Community Health Workers in Canada: Innovative Approaches to Health Promotion Outreach and Community Development Among Immigrant and Refugee Populations

Torres, Sara PhD; Spitzer, Denise L. PhD; Labonté, Ronald PhD; Amaratunga, Carol PhD; Andrew, Caroline PhD

Journal of Ambulatory Care Management: October/December 2013 - Volume 36 - Issue 4 - p 305–318
doi: 10.1097/JAC.0b013e3182a5480f
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This article provides results from an empirical case study that showcases a community health worker practice targeting immigrants and refugees in Canada. The study focuses on the Multicultural Health Brokers practice, which offers an innovative approach to health promotion outreach and community development addressing broad social determinants of health. This article offers new evidence of both the role of community health worker interventions in Canada and community health workers as an invisible health and human services workforce. It also discusses the Multicultural Health Brokers contribution both to the “new public health” vision in Canada and to a practice that fosters feminist urban citizenship.

Institut de recherche en santé publique de l'Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (Dr Torres); Institute of Women's Studies (Dr Spitzer), Institute of Population Health (Drs Spitzer and Labonté), Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine (Drs Amaratunga and Labonté), and Faculty of Social Sciences (Dr Andrew), University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Justice Institute of British Columbia, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada (Dr Amaratunga); School of Public Health and Social Policy, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (Dr Amaratunga); and Faculty of Health Sciences, Flinders University of South Australia (Dr Labonté).

Correspondence: Sara Torres, PhD, Institut de recherche en santé publique de l'Université de Montréal, Pavillon du Parc, 7101 Ave du Parc, #3064, Montreal, Quebec H3N 1x7, Canada (sara.torres@alumni.uottawa.ca).

Funding for this study was awarded to Sara Torres' doctoral research by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research–Institute of Gender and Health Doctoral Awards program. For the remaining authors, no conflicts of interest were declared.

The authors thank the Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op, the Multicultural Health Brokers, and Alberta Health Services Edmonton Zone Public Health and its health care professionals, who generously gave their time, shared their experiences, and cooperated in the carrying out of the case study.

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins