Employers' perceptions of factors related to the workforce development of community health workers in El Paso, Texas: A descriptive study

Aurora Aguirre Polanco, University of Texas at El Paso


Workforce studies are necessary for regional economic development and for having a diverse workforce that meets the communities' needs. Workforce studies explore the most salient factors of models aimed at balancing economic forces of supply and demand. Community Health Workers (CHWs) are frontline health workers recognized by both the United States (US) Department of Labor (DOL) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA). CHWs' service is oriented towards health promotion and disease prevention; they deliver public health interventions. External and internal factors to the US health care system such as health care and wealth disparities, changing demographics, changing epidemiology of diseases, lack of workforce diversity, and inadequate distribution of workers, shape the communities' need for health services that are affordable, accessible, and focused on quality. Health workforce development planners and other stakeholders in the US health care industry are challenged not only by the existing communities' need for health care but also by the recently developed health policies aimed at increasing the access and availability of health services. The US health care reform supports strategies that have the potential to both reduce high and rising health care costs and increase access to quality health care services. CHWs represent an alternative human resource for health care services that promises to increase public health programs' quality and effectiveness. A health workforce that is adequate in size, composition, and distribution can be strategically planned through identifying local opportunities for workforce development. Through the coordination and sponsorship of HEART Project, team members formed the "Paso del Norte CHW/Promotora Workforce Coalition." The three Coalition's strategic directions for CHW workforce advancement (Policy and Publicity, Training and Capacitacion, and Research and Evaluation) served to generate a survey instrument to study the CHW workforce from the employers' perspective. The present study's focus is on the issues concerning the demand for CHWs in the region. The 27 employers in El Paso, Texas that completed telephone surveys are categorized within the industry cluster "Health Care and Social Assistance" under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Through this study, decision makers will have available for use a regional demand profile for CHWs that reflects the employers' perspectives about CHW workforce development. Stakeholders in the field can determine the Coalition's options to effectively collaborate with such employers. The Coalition is better prepared to build specific action goals and objectives that benefit the health industry sector and the overall participants in the CHW workforce.

Subject Area

Labor economics|Public health|Labor relations

Recommended Citation

Aguirre Polanco, Aurora, "Employers' perceptions of factors related to the workforce development of community health workers in El Paso, Texas: A descriptive study" (2012). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1513098.