Community health is a branch of public health which focuses on people and their role as determinants of their own and other peoples’s health in contrast to environmental health which focuses on the physical environment and its impact on peoples health.
Community health is a major field of study within the medical and clinical sciences which focuses on the maintenance, protection, and improvement of the health status of population groups and communities. It is a distinct field of study that may be taught within a separate school of public health or environmental health. The WHO defines community health as:
environmental, social, and economic resources to sustain emotional and physical well being among people in ways that advance their aspirations and satisfy their needs in their unique environment.
Medical interventions that occur in communities can be classified as three categories: primary healthcare, secondary healthcare, and tertiary healthcare. Each category focuses on a different level and approach towards the community or population group. In the United States, community health is rooted within primary healthcare achievements. Primary healthcare programs aim to reduce risk factors and increase health promotion and prevention. Secondary healthcare is related to “hospital care” where acute care is administered in a hospital department setting. Tertiary healthcare refers to highly specialized care usually involving disease or disability management.
The success of community health programmes relies upon the transfer of information from health professionals to the general public using one-to-one or one to many communication (mass communication). The latest shift is towards health marketing.