Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities By Improving Governance And Policy

Health Aff (Millwood). 2016 Nov 1;35(11):1970-1975. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0608.


How can healthier, more equitable communities be created? This is a key question for public health. Even though progress has been made in understanding the impact of social, physical, and policy factors on population health, there is much room for improvement. With this in mind, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation made creating healthier, more equitable communities the third of four Action Areas in its Culture of Health Action Framework. This Action Area focuses on the interplay of three drivers-the physical environment, social and economic conditions, and policy and governance-in influencing health equity. In this article we review some of the policy and governance challenges confronting decisionmakers as they seek to create healthy communities on a broad scale. We use these challenges as a framework for understanding where the most critical gaps still exist, where the links could be exploited more effectively, and where there are opportunities for further research and policy development.

Keywords: built environment; health equity; policy and governance; social and economic conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Environment*
  • Health Equity / organization & administration*
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Local Government
  • Public Health / methods
  • Social Change