Community Building and the Root Causes of Poor Health

The Hilltop Institute’s Hospital Community Benefit Program is a central, objective resource for state and local decision-makers who seek to ensure that tax exempt hospital community benefit activities are responsive to pressing community health needs. This brief is part of a series funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Kresge Foundation.

This brief focuses on hospital community building activities and their importance in addressing the root causes of poor health and disability. These activities go beyond the provision of health care services to focus on "upstream" social, economic, and environmental factors—education, employment, income, housing, community design, family and social support, community safety, and the environment—that are major contributors to population health. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990, Schedule H is the vehicle hospitals use to report their community benefit activities.