Community-centred public health: taking a whole system approach

To reduce widening and persistent health inequalities, a radical shift is needed to put communities at the heart of public health. Building healthy, resilient, connected and empowered communities is an important way of improving the health of the population.

Existing guidance outlines why communities are important to health and the role of community-centred approaches in tackling health inequalities. New research by the Healthy Communities Team has examined how these kinds of approaches, and the principles underpinning them, might best be scaled up across local systems. This research looks at some of the key elements, core values and principles that are important for local authorities looking to make this shift to whole system working in relation to community-centred approaches.

Figure 1: Eleven elements of community-centred public health: a whole system approach


Further resources

Community-centred public health: taking a whole system approach (Briefing)

This briefing (January 2020) summarises the findings of research into current practice on whole system approaches to community-centred public health.

Whole system approaches to community-centred public health (Slide deck)

These slides provide context and background on:

  • the importance of community-centred approaches for reducing health inequalities and how this aligns to other agendas to build strong, connected communities
  • elements of a whole system approach to community-centred public health, based on research
  • conclusions and recommendations for action.

Whole system practice examples relating to community-centred approaches (List of practice examples)

Case studies that showcase the role of volunteering in whole system approaches (List of case studies)

These case studies were produced in collaboration with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).

Whole System Community-Centred Public Health: List of resources 

This resource list contains a series of alternative frameworks for considering community-centred approaches at a system level.

This work is part of the recently published ‘Place-Based Approaches to Reducing Health Inequalities’, which requires action at community, civic and service levels. It will also support those local places developing whole system approaches to address specific public health issues, such as obesity.

For more info on the work of the Healthy Communities team, join the Knowledge Hub group.

Return to Practice Examples homepage.

Return to community-centred and asset-based approaches homepage.

Last Updated on 8th June 2023 by rgledhill

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