Comparison of Public and Community Health

Topics: Public health, Health, Epidemiology Pages: 9 (3121 words) Published: July 17, 2011
Comparison of Public and Community Health: Pertinent History and Available Resources

Comparison of Public and Community Health: Pertinent History and Available Resources The terms public health and community health are oftentimes mistaken to have the same definition; however, the terms although similar have different meanings, as well as implications in application as it applies to health. Both public health and community health serve the health needs of individuals within communities; however, each service began with different approaches to achieve the goals. This paper will define and compare public and community health, the associated objectives, and explore the pertinent history of each service as well as available resources. The use of available resources at the county, state, and national levels will support and promote the health of America so that our nation can continue to promote the health and well-being of all people. Definitions

To begin the comparison process, exploration of common terms must occur. Public Health and Community Health have a word that is common to both; health. The World Health Organization (2003) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (Definition of health, para. 1). Therefore, one can assume that the terms public and community health relate to the “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” (World Health Organization, 2003, para. 1) of individuals in the public or community. Although this is partially true, I will define each term, to understand further the differences between public and community health. Public Health

According to Stanhope and Lancaster (2008), the Institute of Medicine defined public health as “Organized community and multidisciplinary efforts, based on epidemiology, aimed at preventing disease and promoting health” (Definitions of selected terms, p. 48). Stanhope and Lancaster (2008) further report that the Institute of Medicine state that public health is “what we, as a society, do collectively to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy” (p. 6). These definitions provide a level of understanding that Public Health offers an organized approach toward the promotion of health and prevention of disease through tracking and trending conditions, diseases and behaviors that lead to disease. These activities also promote, educate and raise awareness within the public and communities to further prevent the spread of disease, and further decrease associated risks to ensure society remains healthy. Community Health

Community health’s definition on the other hand, according to Stanhope and Lancaster (2008) is “the meeting of collective needs by identifying problems and managing behaviors within the community itself and between the community and the larger society” (p. 347). This definition provides the level of understanding that Community Health refers to the problems and behaviors specific to a community that has the potential to affect others within society. Health care entities plan and provide interventions or services that focus on decreasing the negative health effects on the community’s individuals, families, and groups. Comparison

Public and Community Health
Although the two definitions are similar, the theory and concepts behind each are different. Public health practice focuses on “promoting and preserving [the] health of populations” (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008, p. 1), through looking at the health of the community in its entirety as well as available community resources. The provision of care under Public Health centers in “preventing disease and disability and promoting and protecting the health of the community as a whole” (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008, p.1). Community Health theory and concepts center in investigation of community problems that affect health. The community health status is monitored through...

References: World Health Organization . (2003). WHO definition of health. Retrieved from
Wyoming Department of Health. (2008). Community and Public Health Division. Retrieved from
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