Engage with communities to drive change

Centering community engagement can meaningfully influence and impact the health and well-being of people. It can advance health equity and transform systems for health (e.g., health care policies and programs, housing, transportation) by ensuring that people closest to the problems are actively involved in driving needed changes and solutions.

Whatever the starting point or context, meaningful community engagement requires working collaboratively with those who share similar situations, concerns, or challenges. Shifting toward meaningful community engagement often requires decision makers to defer to communities and share power. These are necessary elements for sustainable change that improves health and well-being and leads to equitable transformation.

There are many resources available, yet few exist on how to measure the impact of engagement. The Assessing Meaningful Community Engagement in Health and Health Care Policies and Programs effort focuses on how to measure whether engagement is meaningful and impactful to a range of audiences. To learn more about the project, go to the about page.


“The process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity… or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people. It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members. It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices.”

—CDC Principles of Community Engagement

The impact of engagement: What gets measured gets done

The impact of engagement centers on understanding whether communities feel engaged. Measuring the impact of community engagement helps to understand:

      • Whether engagement is working well
      • Ways in which engagement can be improved
      • The direction and focus for even more influence and impact
      • How people, places, structures, and systems are being transformed

Three resources have been identified and developed to support the assessment of community engagement. They serve as a bridge between community and scientific evidence.

Start now to measure community engagement


What to expect from the resources

Presents the dynamic relationship between community engagement & outcomes

Demonstrates how groups have engaged their communities & the outcomes observed

Presents Instruments & questions used in different contexts & communities to assess engagement


These resources are intended for use by anyone who wants to measure engagement to ensure that it is meaningful and impactful while emphasizing equity as a critical input and outcome, including:

  • Federal, state & local agencies, territories & tribal communities
  • Community-based groups & community members
  • Patients & patient advocacy organizations
  • Funders, philanthropists & other investors
  • Academic & research institutions
  • Care systems, health centers & hospitals
  • Systems that impact health outcomes (e.g., housing, transportation, education)
  • Payers, plans & industry

Community engagement can take place in diverse contexts and bring people together through varied structures, including, but not limited to, community, resident, patient, or citizen partnerships; multisector, interorganizational, or interdisciplinary partnerships; intraorganizational teams; coalitions; and collaboratives. Different audience configurations, contexts, and structures are possible, but the aim of measuring and advancing engagement is to change relationships, processes,  and outcomes.

Meet the Organizing Committee

This project is guided by the Organizing Committee for Assessing Meaningful Community Engagement in Health and Health Care, comprising experts in community engagement—community leaders, researchers, designers, and policy advisors—who are diverse in many ways, including geographic location, race and ethnicity, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Learn more about their backgrounds and expertise here.


The Organizing Committee would like to thank the following individuals for their insights on and contributions to the Assessing Community Engagement project: Teeb Al-Samarrai, Director of Science and Policy in the Office of the Surgeon General; Cathea Carey, Evaluation and Analytics Coordinator at King County Regional Homelessness Authority; Lauren Fayish, Program Officer with the Evaluation and Analysis team at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI); Dominick Frosch, Associate Director of Public and Patient Engagement at PCORI; Sarah Greene, Senior Advisor at the NAM; Bradley Kramer, Asthma Program Manager at Public Health Seattle & King County; Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Brigham Young University; Erin McDonald, Lead, Equitable Long-Term Recovery and Resilience Plan, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; Sara Jaye Sanford, Epidemiologist for the Assessment, Policy Development & Evaluation Unit at Public Health Seattle & King County; Kim Tippens, Senior Social Research Scientist at Public Health Seattle & King County; and Nicole Turcheti, Social Research Scientist at Public Health Seattle & King County.

Supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and California Health Care Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of either foundation. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org and https://www.chcf.org/.

Assessing community engagement involves the participation of many stakeholders. Click here to share feedback on these resources, insights on using the resources, or email leadershipconsortium@nas.edu and include “measure engagement” in the subject line to learn more about the NAM’s Assessing Community Engagement project.

External tools on the process of engagement

Click here to download a list of external tools on the process of engagement as a PDF.

*Please note this is not a comprehensive list of all available tools.

Explore project resources to support engagement and dissemination

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