CHWs have a huge evidence base showing their contribution to the prevention and control of hypertension. Download our CHW Impact on Hypertension fact sheet and share how CHWs make an impact!
The Role of CHWs in Combating Hypertension
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are public health workers with strong connections to the communities they serve. Their close bonds with community members allow them to serve as liaisons between health/social services and the community, facilitating access to services and improving service delivery to better meet community needs.2 CHWs help patients navigate the healthcare system, communicate with providers, set goals, and adhere to lifestyle changes through meetings and home visits.2
Through healthcare navigation assistance, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy, CHWs help reduce hypertension in the communities that they serve.3,4 CHWs also help prevent hypertension by promoting healthy lifestyle habits.3 CHW interventions result in improved behavioral changes, appointment keeping, medication adherence, and healthcare utilization.3
Several studies have shown that patients who receive support and health education from CHWs experience significant improvements in blood pressure control3,4,5 and weight control.3,5 The positive effect of CHWs on hypertension control has been documented in a variety contexts, including high-risk Black and Latino communities.3,4,5
In its 2011 report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends expanding CHW workforce, especially to reach racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations, to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare disparities.6 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act similarly recognizes CHWs as valuable members of care teams, and allocates funds to support and expand CHW programming.7
CHWs Addressing Hypertension in Michigan
CHW-led hypertension interventions are being developed, implemented, and evaluated in Michigan. CHWs with the Healthy Connections Project in Detroit screened 1,428 women in high-risk communities for type 2 diabetes and hypertension.8 The Walk Your Heart to Health program established walking groups for Black and Latino residents of Detroit and successfully lowered participants’ blood pressure.5 MiCHWA continues to work with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ (MDHHS) Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Unit to help agencies hire, train, and support CHWs so they can better support individuals and communities with hypertension.
1 Wong ND, Franklin, SS. Basic science: epidemiology of hypertension. J Am Soc Hypertens. 2014;8(10):760-763.
2 American Public Health Association. Support for community health workers to increase health access and to reduce health disparities. 2014. Retrieved from https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2014/07/09/14/19/support-for-community-health-workers-to-increase-health-access-and-to-reduce-health-inequities. Accessed December 1, 2016.
3 Brownstein JN et al. Effectiveness of community health workers in the care of people with hypertension. Am J Prev Med. 2007;32(5):435-447.
4 Balcázar HG et al. A promotores de salud intervention to reduce cardiovascular disease risk in a high-risk Hispanic border population. Prev Chronic Dis. 2010;7(2):A28.
5 Schulz AJ et al. Effectiveness of a walking group intervention to promote physical activity and cardiovascular health in predominantly non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic urban neighborhoods: Findings from the Walk Your Heart to Health Intervention. Health Educ Behav. 2015;42(3):380-392.
6 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities: A nation free of disparities in health and health care. Published 2011. Retrieved from https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/npa/files/Plans/HHS/HHS_Plan_complete.pdf. Accessed April 2, 2017.
7 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. U.S. Government Printing Office website. https://www.gpo.gov//fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ148/html/PLAW-111publ148.htm. Accessed December 1, 2016.
8 Harvey IS et al. The healthy connections project: a community-based participatory project involving women at risk for diabetes and hypertension. Prog Comm Health Partnersh. 2009;3(4):287-300.
In partnership with the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MiCHWA compiled resources that illustrate the vital role CHWs play in preventing, controlling, and managing chronic disease.