Building a Culture of Health: Challenges for the Public Health Workforce

Young children playing outside on playground at school.

Public health leadership: Seize the opportunities for change that will support active and healthy living.

The Issue:
For generations, Americans defined health as the absence of disease. Today, however, a larger perspective is required that takes into account that where we live, learn, work, and play determine our health. New developments in health and society offer opportunities to improve our collective well-being.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) vision of a Culture of Health was presented in the 2013 annual report in terms of 10 underlying principles. Here, Alonzo Plough, PhD, MPH, RWJF vice president and chief science officer, reframes those principles in terms of public health.

Four of the 10 principles address longer-term (and long-sought) outcomes of access, quality, affordability, and equity. The remaining six principles can be described in terms of four dimensions of activity for public health:

  1. Social Cohesion and Shared Value of Health—Individuals must view health as a priority for everyone.
  2. Multi-Sector Collaboration—Neighborhoods, schools, and businesses must work together to influence health.
  3. Improving Equity—All people need equal opportunities to live in safe neighborhoods with nutritious and affordable food, and access to recreation.
  4. Improved Quality, Efficiency, and Equity of Health and Health Care Systems—Preventive and health improvement services should be linked with community resources and patients encouraged to participate in their own care.

Plough writes that these four action dimensions suggest:

important areas to further develop in the training of the workforce and how core competencies are further refined in Master of Public Health (MPH) curricula and through public health accreditation standards.


Learn more

Culture of Health Blog Post by Alonzo Plough

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