1. Dickin, Katherine L. PhD
  2. Dollahite, Jamie S. RD, PhD
  3. Habicht, Jean-Pierre MD, PhD


Mixed-methods research investigated the work motivation of paraprofessional community nutrition educators (CNEs) delivering a long-running public health nutrition program. In interviews, CNEs (n = 9) emphasized "freedom," supportive supervision, and "making a difference" as key sources of motivation. Community nutrition educator surveys (n = 115) confirmed high levels of autonomy, which was associated with supervisors' delegation and support, CNE decision-making on scheduling and curricula, and job satisfaction. Supervisors (n = 32) rated CNEs' job design as having inherently motivating characteristics comparable to professional jobs. Supervisory strategies can complement job design to create structured, supportive contexts that maintain fidelity, while granting autonomy to paraprofessionals to enhance intrinsic work motivation.