Gains From Public-Private Collaborations to Improve Community Health

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In several disciplines there exists theoretical and empirical evidence to show that community affects health and behaviors; but to date such evidence has remained largely outside the health services field. In this article, the authors introduce and contribute to this evidence and then discuss how those in the healthcare sector can work to increase public-private collaborations.


Telephone survey data collected in 1995 from 1,826 randomly selected residents of a Northwest urban county were used in multivariate analysis to assess the relationship between community quality and health status. Community quality was measured by residents' perceptions of community problems. Findings indicate that individual ratings of community problems predicted mental health functioning. This effect was found overall and for men and women separately. These results suggest that health is dependent on how people perceive the quality of their community.


Leadership and vision can make an enormous difference in the quality of a community health system and in the cost-effectiveness of the care provided. Healthcare leaders can develop their understanding of their community and the impact of community characteristics on health through consultation with experts, input from community leaders, and visits to the neighborhoods that surround the delivery services. Community networks can be developed with the common focus of improving the community's health. Collaborative efforts between the private health sector, the public health sector, and community members can enhance social relationships and thus promote the health of residents.

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