Increasingly, community involvement and collaborations have become the foundation of public health action. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has seen the need to broaden the understanding of the key principles of community engagement, and is pleased to offer Principles of Community Engagement to public health professionals and community leaders interested in engaging the community in health decision-making and action. This document represents the first time that the relevant theory and practical experience of community engagement has been synthesized and presented as practical principles, or guidelines, for this important work.

Principles of Community Engagement contains definitions of key concepts and insights from the literature that support and influence the activities of community engagement. The principles, a set of nine fundamental guiding ideas, form the core of the document and hold true for efforts across public health disciplines regardless of the initiating organizations. A series of case examples, taken from real-life experiences, link these principles to the major components of the community engagement process.

You can use this document to improve communication, promote a common understanding, and strengthen community partnerships to fulfill shared public health goals. We hope you will find Principles of Community Engagement useful in your role as leaders in addressing today’s critical health issues.

Edward L. Baker, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Surgeon General
Public Health Practice Program Office

Back For further information on community collaboration, visit the Public Health Practice Program Office Internet site at or contact Michael Hatcher at Mail Stop K39, 4770 Buford Highway, N.E., Atlanta, GA., 30341-3724 or email