Bringing Community Back to Community Health Worker Studies: Community interactions, data collection, and health information flows

  • Eric Ryan Obeysekare Pennsylvania State University
  • Khanjan Mehta Pennsylvania State Univeristy
  • Carleen Maitland Pennsylvania State University
Keywords: ICTD, Community Informatics, Health Informatics, Health Information, Information Flows


Community Health Workers (CHWs) have the potential to be a great resource in the further growth of the fledging healthcare systems that exist in many developing countries. Through their position as community members, CHWs can interact with other individuals in the areas where they live and work and serve as valuable health resources by providing basic health information and referrals up the healthcare chain. However, few studies have examined CHWs from a community-based perspective. This study analyzes the work and relationships of several CHWs working for the Mashavu mHealth venture in Nyeri, Kenya. Through the use of participant observation and interviews, the workflows of these CHWs were investigated with a specific eye towards interactions between CHWs and their communities and how these interactions affect potential health data collection opportunities. This community-based perspective reveals unique insights into the workflows of the CHWs and how technology might be designed to support them.

Author Biographies

Eric Ryan Obeysekare, Pennsylvania State University

PhD Candidate

College of Information Sciences and Technology

Khanjan Mehta, Pennsylvania State Univeristy


Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program

School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs

Carleen Maitland, Pennsylvania State University

Associate Professor

College of Information Sciences and Technology