Community Development Efforts Offer a Major Opportunity to Advance Americans' Health

Large differences in the opportunities and resources that Americans have to be healthy have led to sizable variations in health by geography, race and ethnicity, income level, and education. By enhancing the opportunities for good health in the places where we live, learn, work, play and worship, community development initiatives can be important drivers of improved health.

As articles in this month’s issue of Health Affairs attest, community development and public health are two forces that often have the same goals. Because there has been little research to date documenting which aspects of community development could have the greatest impact on health, it will be increasingly necessary to rigorously evaluate the impact of various interventions to guide policy makers in identifying the most important measures to take in an environment of constrained financial resources.