Hospital-Based Strategies for Creating a Culture of Health

Caretaker holding patient's hand from hospital bed.

Hospitals and health care systems play a key role in supporting community health initiatives and contributing to developing a Culture of Health in their communities.

The Issue:

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is catalyzing a movement in the United States to build a Culture of Health where everyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity to make healthy choices and have access to quality, affordable health care. Increasingly, hospitals are collaborating with community partners in developing a Culture of Health in the communities they serve. The Health Research & Educational Trust is working with RWJF to study the approaches hospitals and health care systems are taking to build a Culture of Health by reviewing community health needs assessments, assessing a broad base of literature and conducting interviews with hospital leaders.

To help guide this project, RWJF has created an "action model" that includes four action areas they've identified as major contributors in a Culture of Health:

  1. Social cohesion and shared value of health
  2. Multisectoral collaboration to build health partnerships
  3. Improved and equitable opportunity for healthy choices and environments
  4. Improved quality, efficiency and equity of health and health care systems

This report explores the various approaches hospitals and health care systems are taking to improve community health.

  • Identify community health needs and priorities—access to care and to preventive and screening services, chronic condition management, and socioeconomic factors and insurance status are top community health concerns.
  • Potential roles for hospitals and health care systems include as a specialist, promoter, convener, or anchor.
  • Hospitals are partnering with schools, local public health departments, businesses, and community nonprofits on obesity initiatives; and with community health centers on issues of access, behavioral health, and substance abuse.
  • Successful approaches to building a culture of health require obtaining clear commitments from leadership, aligning with stakeholders on shared goals, allocating resources, and measuring results and sustainability.

About the Study:

The Health Research and Educational Trust reviewed 300 community health needs assessments, survey data, research reports, and other HRET resources; and interviewed more than 25 hospital and health care leaders.