Why invest in community health?



This section offers insight into definitions and measures that are relevant to the concept of a culture of health as well as public-private partnerships. Both definitions and measures are important details that will provide a solid foundation for collaboration based on shared expectations and movement towards a common language.

Culture of Health Defined:

Many different definitions of the culture of health concept exist and are often focused on a specific set of stakeholders such as employers, communities, and individuals. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation broadly defines culture of health in the following way:
A culture of health is viewed as one in which individuals and social entities (e.g., households, organizations, etc.) are able to make healthy life choices within a larger social environment that values, provides, and promotes options that are capable of producing health and wellbeing for everyone regardless of background or environment. In short, the healthy choice becomes the valued and easy choice (RWJF, 2015).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following culture of health definition specific to the workplace:

Culture of Health – is the creation of a working environment where employee health and safety is valued, supported and promoted through workplace health programs, policies, benefits, and environmental supports. Building a Culture of Health involves all levels of the organization and establishes the workplace health program as a routine part of business operations aligned with overall business goals. The results of this culture change include engaged and empowered employees, an impact on health care costs, and improved worker productivity (CDC, 2015).

Population Health Defined:

Population health (Kindig & Stoddart, 2003):

  • Is a field of inquiry that encompasses “health outcomes, patterns of health determinants, and policies and interventions that link these two.”
  • Refers to “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.”
  • Is much broader than public health, going beyond the traditional government systems (e.g., health departments).
  • Goes beyond hospitals and clinical care systems to include community and societal influences (e.g., social determinants of health).
  • Is a composite of community, public health, and clinical care systems.


RWJF Annual Report, 2014

CDC Glossary, 2015

Kindig D, and Stoddart G. What is population health? American Journal of Public Health, 2003;93(3):380-383.

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