a sign for university circle in Cleveland

Improving the health of our communities requires residents, organizations, and elected officials to work together authentically and sustainably—there is no quick fix, and it takes a lot of work. The ability to partner effectively across diverse sectors—both inside and outside the community—is essential to advance our communities and make them places where people are healthy, cared for and safe. At the Center for Community Health Integration, we know cannot do it alone.

What is Community Health? 

Community health is a branch of knowledge concerned with the health of a group of people who have common characteristics and the treatment or prevention of disease. 

Community health:

  • examines the concepts of population coverage and at-risk groups of people
  • works with representatives of the community to identify and prioritize their health needs
  • studies stages of the development of diseases including available methods of prevention
  • tries to identify resources for the organization of basic health services

Community health and population health are not be confused. While similar, the primary difference between the two concepts is the identity or organization of the persons who make up these groups.  Population health refers to a segment of the population who are not identified as a group and the actions and conditions that promote, protect and preserve their health.

In simpler terms, community health focuses on the maintenance, protection and improvement of the health status of communities as a whole and not the health of individual residents/patients who live in it.

Adapted from 'Public Health: What It Is and How It Works' by B.J. Turnock, 'Community Health, Nairobi, Kenya: African Medical and Research Foundation' by eds. C.H. Wood, J.P. Vaughan, and H. de Glanville, and 'Community and Population Health' by L.W. Green and J.F. McKenzie.