Not a duty but an opportunity: exploring the lived experiences of community health workers in Indiana through photovoice
Few studies have conducted photovoice projects to explore themes related to the lived experiences of community health workers (CHWs). As a relatively unknown segment of the health care workforce in the United States, CHWs are typically members of the communities they work within and fulfill unique and complementary roles through health education, health prevention, community outreach, and advocacy. This article documents a photovoice project that assessed the strengths, challenges, impacts, and what it means to be a CHW in Indiana. In this project, CHWs participated in the method of photovoice in two formal meetings – one to introduce the method and another to analyze the photographs. Participants displayed photographs, interpreted these images, and co-constructed their lived experiences. Several key themes emerged from discussion of the photographs including: participant descriptions of building individual and character traits, conceptualizations of this position, and how participants connect disparate resources for their clients. Themes and findings from this research can be utilized to reach out to potential employers and policy makers regarding the integration of CHWs into the workforce. Overall, this project documents the lived experiences of CHWs and highlights their voices as they become an accepted member within the broader workforce.
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