Public health departments must address all factors in the community that are responsible for affecting health status.
The interrelationship between health and education, housing, jobs, income, and racial and ethnic discrimination is well documented. Given that the mission of public health is to "create conditions in which people can be healthy," what is the role of public health departments in addressing sociological determinants of disease, given the recommendations of the Robert Wood Johnson Commission to Build a Healthier America?
These authors suggest that public health departments are responsible to address broader health issues that influence the health of the community. Therefore, they must move "further upstream" and begin to address such issues as housing and the built environment, early childhood development, food deserts and neighborhood safety.
Historically, public health has periodically shifted its focus. Early public health efforts were centered on infectious diseases before changing focus to chronic disease and interventions. Now another shift is called for—from focusing on the proximal risk factors and interventions for disease (tobacco, diet, exercise and drug use as related to heart disease, cancer and stroke, for example) to those more distally responsible for health (such as health disparities, education, and social and economic factors).
Education, business, clinical practitioners, public health and government should collaborate to create environments conducive to sustained health improvements.
- 1 Strong Medicine for a Healthier America
- 2 Broadening the Focus
- 3 Healthy Starts for All
- 4 Citizen-Centered Health Promotion
- 5 Healthy Homes and Communities
- 6 When Do We Know Enough to Recommend Action on the Social Determinants of Health?
- 7 The Economic Value of Improving the Health of Disadvantaged Americans
- 8 Improving Health
- 9 To Improve Health, Don't Follow the Money
- 10 Moving on Upstream
- 11 Businesses as Partners to Improve Community Health
- 12 Strengthening the Public Research Agenda for Social Determinants of Health
RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Jennifer Bellot writes about losing her grandmother to complications from a medical error.
RWJF Health & Society Scholar Brendan Saloner on subsidized health insurance's impact on family economics.
Learn how The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is dedicated to building a culture of health in Risa Lavizzo-Mourey's 2014 annual message.
America is not getting good value for its health care dollar. These resources explore issues of cost and value of health care.
The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps can be put to use right away to help create a culture of health in your community.
While the need to address disparities in care is well known, few strategies for reducing disparities have been studied systematically.
Developing small community homes as alternatives to nursing homes, this radical, new national model for skilled nursing care returns control...
Judith Halstead, president of the National League for Nursing, writes about the role of nursing education in realizing a transformed health ...
RWJF Scholar puzzles out why people who do not drink alcohol are at greater risk for premature death than light to moderate drinkers.
Unengaged patients can incur costs of up to 21% higher than patients who are highly engaged in care. This suite of materials from RWJF's AF4...
A short distance can mean large disparities in health. Across America, babies born just a few miles apart have dramatic differences in life ...