Abstract Background Social support plays a critical role in physical and emotional health, making it an important component of community health worker (CHW) health promotion interventions. Different types of support operate in different ways, however, and the relationship between the nature of CHW support and the subsequent health benefit for their clients is not well understood. Methods This paper describes an integrated mixed methods study of the emotional, informational, appraisal and tangible support CHWs provided to Latinx community members residing in three US-Mexico border communities. Using a cohort (n = 159) from a CHW community-based intervention, we identify and describe four clusters of social support in which participants are characterized by life situations that informed the types of social support provided by the CHW. We examine the association between each cluster and client perceptions of social support over the 6-month intervention. Results CHWs provided emotional, appraisal, informational and tangible support depending on the needs of participants. Participants who received higher levels of emotional support from the CHW experienced the greatest post intervention increase in perceived social support. Conclusions Study findings suggest that CHWs may be adept at providing non-directive social support based on their interaction with a client rather than a health outcome objective. Health promotion interventions should allow CHWs the flexibility to tailor provision of social support based on their assessment of client needs.
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