Key Terminology

The following terms were used to guide the formation of the Institute for Health and Society:

 Asset-based Community Development

A process that involves the community in making an inventory of assets and capacity-building relationships, developing a vision of the future, and leveraging internal and external resources to support actions to achieve it (the Community Toolbox, Identifying Community Assets and Resources)

 Capacity Building

An increase in a group’s abilities to define, assess, analyze and act on health and other concerns of importance to their members. (Labonte and Laverack, 2001)


A process by which groups come together and establish a formal commitment to work together to achieve common goals and objectives through joint ownership of the work and shared risks, results, and rewards (NACCHO, Pulling Together, 2008)


Need not be defined solely by geography. It can refer to a group that self-identifies by age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, illness, or health connection, shared values or norms, mutual influence, common interest, or commitment to meeting a shared need (CCPH Board of Directors, 2005)

 Community Assets

The full breadth of people, organizational, and institutional resources that exist in a community (Beaulieu, 2002)

 Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR)

A collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community and has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change (W.K. Kellogg Community Health Scholars Program, 2001)

 Community Capacity

The characteristics of communities that affect their ability to identify, mobilize, and address social and public health problems (McLeroy, 1996)

 Community Engagement

A process that requires power sharing, maintenance of equity, and flexibility in pursuing goals, methods, and time frames to fit the priorities, needs and capacities within the cultural context of communities. In research, community engagement is a process of inclusive participation that supports mutual respect of values, strategies, and actions for authentic partnership of people affiliated with or self-identified by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of the community of focus (NIH Council on Public Representatives, 2008)

 Community Health Improvement

A systemic effort that assesses community needs and assets, prioritizes health-related problems and issues, analyzes problems for their causative factors, develops evidence-based intervention strategies based on those analyses, links stakeholders to implementation efforts through performance monitoring, and evaluates the effect of interventions in the community (Turnock, 2009).

 Cultural Humility

A commitment and active engagement in a lifelong process that individuals enter into on an ongoing basis with patients, communities, colleagues, and with themselves (Leland Brown 1994).

 Community Needs

Community-defined issues, problems or opportunities (Community Needs Assessment Factsheet, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

 Health Disparities

A significant difference in the overall rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality or survival rates in a population as compared to the health status of the general population (Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act, 2000).

 Health Equity

Achieving the optimal level of health for all people. Entails focused societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities by equalizing the conditions for health for all groups, especially for those who have experienced socioeconomic disadvantage or historical injustices (Virginia Department of Health, 2009).

 Health Inequity

Disparities in health or its social determinants that favor social groups that are already more advantaged (Braveman, 2003).


Individuals or organizations working together in a side-by-side effort to accomplish a common goal with a shared sense of purpose and a shared responsibility for the outcome (Ohio State University, Building Coalitions Fact Sheet).

 Public Health

The fulfillment of society's interest in assuring the conditions in which people can be healthy, which includes organized interdisciplinary efforts that address the physical, mental, and environmental health concerns of communities and populations (Colorado Departments of Health, 2008).


Belief or doctrine that inherent differences among various human races determine cultural or individual achievements, usually involving the assumption that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others. Policy, system of government, etc. that is based upon or fostering such doctrine; discrimination.

 Social Determinants of Health (SDoH)

The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, including the health system. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries (World Health Organization, 2003).

 Social Justice

The equitable distribution of social, economic and political resources, opportunities, and responsibilities and their consequences. In public health, a social justice framework includes the premise that marginalization based on race, class, gender, and other social classifications underlies the inequitable distribution of social, economic and political resources and opportunities. This unequal distribution of resources and opportunities is manifested through inequitable access and exposure to social determinants of health. Through direct and indirect mechanisms, the result is health inequities (Virginia Department of Health).

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Page Updated 02/26/2015