Why invest in community health?



Measures in particular can support the assessment of progress or impact as well as encourage action and collaboration. Measures are an important part of any effort and should be carefully chosen so that we only measure those items that are important, with the realization that ultimately what we measure is what we value (Seligman, 2013).

If agreed upon by all stakeholders, measures can enhance both collaboration and communication among diverse groups and create a unified approach to action. For these reasons, identifying both definitions and measures for any effort is essential and more so for a concept such as culture of health, which can mean different things to different stakeholder groups. Martin Seligman is a researcher who is known for broadening the science base in social psychology and is credited for advancing the concept of positive psychology into a field not customarily attuned to rapid science innovation. Seligman suggested that measurement can:

• Help create the value statement;
• Assess intervention impact;
• Capture a population’s interest;
• Create momentum and evidence for policy change;
• Create a basis for dialog and action; and
• Shift the focus to outcomes and results.

Advancing a culture of health as a fundamental driver of improvements in a community’s health will benefit from metrics that facilitate each of these six domains. Unleashing these domains with effective metrics will also serve to move stakeholder groups with a diversity of opinions and objectives (i.e. between community and company leaders) toward common ground and enable cooperation around shared goals. Measures chosen by a collaborative must resonate with all stakeholders and should be specific to the collaborative’s short- and long-term goals. Several measure resources could be considered by a collaborative, with one example referenced below:

County Health Rankings – The County Health Rankings are a set of measures based on a model of population health that emphasizes the many factors that, if improved, can help make communities healthier places to live, learn, work and play. The Rankings measure the health of nearly every county in the nation and rank them within states. These measures are standardized and combined using scientifically informed weights.


Seligman, M. (2013). Building the State of Wellbeing: A Strategy for South Australia. Government of South Australia: Adelaide, SA.

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