Farmworkers Trained as Health Promoters Sow the Seeds of Better Health Care

From 1995 to 1998, Community Health Care in Bridgeton, N.J., developed a program to train farmworkers in Cumberland County to become lay health promoters.

Staff recruited farmworkers from local farms and poultry and packing houses and provided them with 100 hours of training on topics such as the role of a health promoter, and working with individuals with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, drug and alcohol abuse, and high blood pressure.

The health promoters provided individual and group health care education and referrals for individuals with diabetes, hypertension or HIV, and made follow-up visits to all farmworkers newly identified with these diseases.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Jersey Health Initiatives national program.

Key Results

  • During the course of the project, health promoters had almost 9,000 encounters with farmworkers and their relatives in which they shared information about drug abuse and health.
  • Lay health promoters were effective in gaining—through training—the self-confidence and ability needed to do their jobs.
  • Based on evaluation meetings with participants, health promoters determined that participants changed behaviors in order to prevent health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and drug/alcohol abuse.