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CHW Health Disparities Initiative

CHW Health Disparities Initiative

The Community Health Worker Health Disparities Initiative aims to help reduce health disparities in underserved and minority communities across the United States. Community health workers (CHWs) are engaged to deliver heart health education and skill-building strategies to encourage community members to make healthy behavior changes so they can enjoy their lives and raise their families.

The Initiative’s current focus is heart disease, which is responsible for one out of every three deaths in the country. Racial and ethnic minority groups experience double the rate of premature deaths from heart disease than their white counterparts.1,2

Heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, overweight/obesity, diabetes, and smoking, can be prevented or controlled with healthy lifestyle choices. The challenge becomes getting that message to the community and helping people take steps to make healthy choices. Changing behaviors saves lives.

CHW Programs include health education resources and training, shared learning, evaluation, and partnerships.

The Community Health Worker Health Disparities Initiative has developed science-based, culturally appropriate health education materials and strategies that aim to reduce health disparities in heart disease among underserved and minority communities. The Initiative uses a public health approach to empower CHWs to become active promoters of health in their communities.

Health Education Resources and Training

The Initiative offers a range of training options and materials, such as the following:

  • Multicultural curricula, including manuals, DVDs, tip sheets, picture cards, and cookbooks for heart health. These materials, which are based on NHLBI research, are tailored to meet the cultural needs, health literacy, and language needs of diverse communities. For more information, visit Health Education Materials.
  • Implementation support to help CHWs deliver their programs. Whether a group already supports a CHW program or is interested in starting one, the Initiative has a variety of resources available to assist. For more information, visit Start a Program.

Shared Learning

The Initiative does more than simply offer a core set of health education materials. To ensure that CHWs have all the tools they need to run a successful heart health program, the Initiative shares stories from Communities in Action and highlights the value and role of CHWs in reaching minority and underserved communities.


Because successful programs don’t happen all by themselves, the Initiative works to develop and expand partnerships and networks that promote CHWs and their efforts to implement and sustain the NHLBI CHW programs. Want to learn more? Check out Partner with Us.


Evaluation is an integral part of a thriving program. The Initiative includes an evaluation component in each CHW training and community education curricula/manual, so that CHWs can collect information on self-reported changes in heart health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among participants. Session 12 of the manuals includes tools (e.g., surveys, feedback forms, logic model templates) to help CHWs measure every phase of the heart health program, from planning through implementation. Read through the Communities in Action key results and outcomes to see how other groups have put the evaluation tools to work. An evaluation report of CHW-led community-based programs and downloadable evaluation tools can be found in Resources.

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1 Graham, G. N., Guendelman, M., Leong, B. S., Hogan, S., & Dennison, A. (2006). Impact of heart disease and quality of care on minority populations in the United States. Journal of the National Medical Association, 98 (10), 1579-1586.pdf document icon (PDF, 1.8 MB)

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2004). Disparities in premature deaths from heart disease – 50 states and the District of Columbia, 2001. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 53 (6), 121-125.

Last Updated: June 2014