Action to Improve Social Determinants of Health: Outcomes of Leadership and Advocacy Training for Community Residents
Racial and ethnic disparities remain a public health problem and are largely due to social determinants of health (SDOH). Using an adapted 36-hour community health worker (CHW) curriculum, we trained 42 lay community residents in New Orleans, Louisiana, neighborhoods experiencing disparities in leadership and advocacy skills to address SDOH. Six months posttraining, 29 participants completed a follow-up survey and interview. Participants described increases in knowledge, self-efficacy, and activities related to leadership and advocacy at all levels of the social ecological model. We also found a significant increase in communicating with Louisiana state senators or representatives (p < .0339). Our findings show that an adapted CHW training curriculum focused on SDOH, leadership, and advocacy can be used to train lay community residents in how to make changes in the community conditions that affect health and prompt new engagement to address SDOH at all levels of the social ecological model. Future efforts to increase lay community participation in addressing SDOH may benefit from providing ongoing support to participants such as organizing meetings with residents interested in similar topics, offering opportunities to “shadow” experienced CHWs, or hosting additional skills building workshops.