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Center for Tobacco Treatment Research and Training (CTTRT) Blog

What Is The Role of Community Health Workers In Tobacco Treatment?

September 11, 2017

Community Health Workers (CHWs)  are increasingly being trained to provide tobacco treatment in their work-setting. Recent example of CHWs participating in tobacco treatment training was presentation of Basic Skills for Working with Smokers trainingThe trainees will be part of a large study Integrated Smoking Cessation Treatment for Smokers with Serious Mental Illness. The study will be funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute*.  Massachusetts Department of Public Health/Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program supported the cost of the tobacco treatment training.

In this study CHWs will be supporting people who have serious mental illnesses and use tobacco. They will play a role in helping people learn how tobacco use is impacting their physical and mental health. More importantly they will bring a message of hope that it is possible to stop tobacco use. They will also help link their client to tobacco treatment resources. See what two of these CHWs had to say about our training.


Video: The training director talks about Basic Skills for Working with
       Smokers (BSWS) Course

In the past, Boston Public Health Commission has devoted resources to training CHWs and other community members. These trainings supported BPHCs efforts to increase tobacco treatment resources in Community Health Centers. Most recently, these trainings have been geared towards building resources that enhance the smoke-free housing initiatives.

Many states are implementing certification programs for CHWs and training opportunities are increasing. Massachusetts has been highlighted as one of leaders in integration of CHWs into healthcare in a CDC policy/systems guide. Certification of CHWs is part of the Massachusetts approach with a well-defined list of competencies. Most training programs currently focus on these core competencies and may include some modules related to specialized health topics. While impact of tobacco use is integrated into some of the trainings, there’s room for additional focus on the topic.

Our Basic Skills for Working with Smokers is one-way training programs and employers of CHWs can provide evidence-based training.  This will increase their knowledge and skills on this importance topic. We will be increasing our efforts to reach CHWs and engage them in our training programs. Contact us if you would like more information about our tobacco treatment programs.

Community Health Workers

Community Health Workers attending Tobacco Treatment Training, June 2017


*Research reported in this article was funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Award (PCS-1504-30472).
The views, statements, and opinions in this article are solely the responsibility of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), its Board of Governors or Methodology Committee.