Advancing community health through community health partnerships

J Healthc Manag. Jan-Feb 1998;43(1):51-66; discussion 66-7.


Improving a community's health is a key goal of health services organizations. Effectively pursuing that goal requires health services organizations to create partnerships with other organizations to help identify community health needs and to create and carry out programs that bring together community members and needed health services. Drawing on community systems concepts and a recent study of community health partnership efforts in three cities, this article provides a framework for such partnerships. Types of partnerships described include: Community action partnerships, in which the partnership forms to address a specific problem or pursue a specific opportunity. Community organization partnerships, in which a set of organizations in a similar service sector agree to collaborate for mutually agreed upon goals; and Community development partnerships, in which a partnership attempts to increase participation by people and organizations in collaborative activities that advance the community on multiple fronts or that contribute to community assets and services in multiple areas. The article also describes how the pressures to create large integrated delivery systems can affect creation of partnerships to improve community health. Increasingly, healthcare leaders are being held accountable for the health of communities they serve. When creating partnerships for community health and carrying out health-improvement activities, leaders should be aware of and respond to four key dimensions of accountability: political accountability, commercial accountability, clinical/patient accountability, and community accountability.

MeSH terms

  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Community Health Planning / organization & administration*
  • Community Networks / organization & administration
  • Community Participation
  • Health Care Coalitions / organization & administration*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Models, Organizational
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Rural Population
  • Social Responsibility
  • United States
  • Urban Population