Community Health Workers as Puentes/Bridges to Increase COVID-19 Health Equity in Latinx Communities of the Southwest U.S.

Christopher Hernandez-Salinas, Flavio F. Marsiglia, Hyunsung Oh, Ana Paola Campos, Kate De La Rosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study documents the pivotal role that Community Health Workers (CHW) played while supporting underserved Latinx communities affected by COVID-19-related health inequities. With the support of CHWs’ agencies historically serving three Latinx-dense counties in Arizona, we recruited CHWs who participated in a state-wide COVID-19 testing project. Using phenomenology and narrative qualitative research methods, five focus groups were facilitated in Spanish between August and November 2021. Bilingual research team members conducted the analysis of the Spanish verbatim transcripts and CHWs reviewed the results for validity. Three interconnected themes reflected the CHWs experiences: (1) CHWs as puentes/bridges with deep community embeddedness through shared experiences and social/cultural context, (2) CHWs as communication brokers and transformational agents, playing a pivotal role in responding to the health and socioeconomic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, (3) CHWs satisfaction and frustration due to their dual role as committed community members but unrecognized and undervalued frontline public health workers. These findings emphasize the CHWs’ commitment towards supporting their communities, even amidst the stressors of the pandemic. It is important to continue to integrate the role of CHWs into the larger healthcare system as opposed to relegating them to short term engagements as was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article provides a set of practice, policy, and future research recommendations, emphasizing the need to allocate greater budgetary and training resources in support of CHWs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Community Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Community health workers
  • COVID-19
  • Health equity
  • Latinx Communities
  • Promotoras

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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