Engage the Community
The key concepts below define elements of community engagement to help ensure that your CHI efforts address the needs of the community.
An excellent way to gain insight into the needs and priorities of a community is to engage its members. This is particularly useful when trying to reach vulnerable/underserved populations. By drawing upon the inside knowledge of community members, you will better identify mutually beneficial opportunities for the greatest impact and enable greater acceptability with the community and thus, sustainability of your intervention(s).
- Diverse community stakeholders are engaged as ongoing partners
- People who represent the broad interests of the communities served, particularly vulnerable/underserved populations, are involved in all stages of the CHI process
Tools for Getting Started
Tools are listed below in an order roughly aligned with the order of the key concept(s) they support above.
- Identifying and Analyzing Stakeholders and Their Interests
- Go to the Checklist and Main Section tabs for an overview of how to identify stakeholders and address stakeholder interests.
- Engaging Partners, Stakeholders, and Community Members
- Go to Tools to Assist You in Engaging Partners, Stakeholders, Community Members, and Media for a Circles of Involvement worksheet, customizable invitations, letters of commitment, presentation tools, talking points for Community Health Assessments (CHAs) and Community Health Improvement Processes (CHIPs), handouts to assist you in engaging partners, and other resources.
- A Practitioner’s Guide to Advancing Health Equity—Meaningful Community Engagement for Health and Equity
- Go to pages 10–13 for a collection of health-equity considerations for policy, systems, and environmental strategies. Included are questions to consider and examples of how to integrate health equity into local practice.
Relevant Excerpts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Final Rule
The IRS Final Rule on Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) for Charitable Hospitals contains language related to select key concepts above. An excerpt of this language is provided below. To see the full regulation, click on the hyperlinked references below this paragraph.6
“[A] hospital facility must solicit and take into account input received from all of the following sources in identifying and prioritizing significant health needs and in identifying resources potentially available to address those health needs:
- (A) At least one state, local, tribal, or regional governmental public health department (or equivalent department or agency), or a State Office of Rural Health described in section 338J of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 254r), with knowledge, information, or expertise relevant to the health needs of that community.
- (B) Members of medically underserved, low-income, and minority populations in the community served by the hospital facility, or individuals or organizations serving or representing the interests of such populations. For purposes of this paragraph (b), medically underserved populations include populations experiencing health disparities or at risk of not receiving adequate medical care as a result of being uninsured or underinsured or due to geographic, language, financial, or other barriers.
- (C) Written comments received on the hospital facility’s most recently conducted CHNA and most recently adopted implementation strategy.”7
“In addition to the sources described in paragraph (b)(5)(i) of this section, a hospital facility may solicit and take into account input received from a broad range of persons located in or serving its community, including, but not limited to, health care consumers and consumer advocates, nonprofit and community-based organizations, academic experts, local government officials, local school districts, health care providers and community health centers, health insurance and managed care organizations, private businesses, and labor and workforce representatives.”8
Note: The above statements do not constitute legal advice or regulatory guidance from CDC. Questions regarding the application of law to a specific circumstance or circumstances should be submitted to an attorney or other qualified legal professional.
6Additional Requirements for Charitable Hospitals; Community Health Needs Assessments for Charitable Hospitals; Requirement of a Section 4959 Excise Tax Return and Time for Filing the Return, 79 Fed. Reg. 78,953 (December 31, 2014) (to be codified at 26 C.F.R. pts. 1, 53, and 602), available at IRS Final Rule on Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) for Charitable Hospitals .
8Id. at 78,966.
CHI Guiding Principles
The following resources contain additional information about the underlying principles of collaborative CHI. The key concepts found in this section were derived from a review of these guiding principles.
- County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
- Georgia Health Policy Center Sustainability Framework
- Improving Community Health through Hospital–Public Health Partnerships
- Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health (Institute of Medicine 2012)
- Principles to Consider for the Implementation of a Community Health Needs Assessment Process (Rosenbaum 2013)
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize Criteria
- Community Member Forum Tools for Community Health Assessment and Implementation Planning:
The following are sample templates that you can tailor to your needs for planning, organizing, and executing various types of community meetings:
- Tip Sheet – Engaging the Community: This resource provides tips on engaging the community, as well as common challenges, as part of the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) process.
- Increasing Participation and Membership: This tool provides guidance and related references for increasing participation and engaging stakeholders.
- Organize for Success: This overview of the first phase of MAPP—Organize for Success—outlines steps for the planning process including development of a planning partnership.
- Principles of Community Engagement: These practical guidelines help professionals and community leaders improve communication; promote common understanding; and strengthen coordination, collaboration, and partnership efforts among themselves and community members and institutions.