Community engagement as a public health practice
Public health strongly values community engagement, and community engagement is a fundamental practice of public health.
We believe that the public has a right to participate, the public has valuable knowledge about what will work in their own communities to improve health, and the public makes good decisions. Together, public health expertise and community collective intelligence will identify problems more accurately, and develop more elegant and effective solutions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines community engagement as: "the process of working collaboratively with groups of people who are affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or similar situations with respect to issues affecting their well-being." Health departments can strengthen community relationships through their current engagement efforts, like community health assessment and planning, health education and promotion, understanding and addressing barriers to health care access, and efforts to change policy (source: Principles of community engagement).