What Works for Health

Policies and programs that can improve health

Community fitness programs

Offer exercise classes (e.g., yoga, Tai Chi, cycling, etc.) and fitness program support in community centers, senior centers, fitness, and community wellness centers

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Community gardens

Establish and support land that is gardened or cultivated by community members via community land trusts, gardening education, zoning regulation changes, or service provision (e.g., water or waste disposal)

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Community health workers

Engage professional or lay health workers to provide education, referral and follow-up, case management, home visiting, etc. for those at high risk for poor health outcomes; also called promotores de salud

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Access to Care

Community kitchens for food processing

Establish shared kitchen spaces that support licensed, commercial food processing and connect specialty food processors, farmers, and others who produce value-added goods

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Community kitchens for nutrition education

Use existing kitchen spaces for community members to share knowledge, resources, and labor to prepare, cook, and consume food, often with nutrition education provided for participants experiencing food insecurity

Evidence Rating:
Insufficient Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Community land trusts

Purchase land to lease to low and middle income homeowners and require them to sell the home back to the CLT or to another low income resident at an affordable price

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Housing and Transit

Community policing

Implement a policing philosophy based on community partnership, organizational transformation, and problem solving techniques to proactively address public safety issues: also called community-oriented policing

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Community Safety

Community schools

Combine academic, physical health, mental health, and social service resources in schools for students and families via partnerships with community organizations; also called community learning centers

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Education

Community supported agriculture (CSA)

Establish partnerships between farmers and consumers in which consumers purchase a share of a farm’s products in advance

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Community water fluoridation

Adjust and monitor fluoride in public water supplies to reach and retain optimal fluoride concentrations

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Access to Care

Community weight loss challenges

Support temporary programs that work to energize participants to lose weight via prizes, often combined with education, weight status and food intake tracking, regular check-ins, and group support

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Community-based social support for physical activity

Build, strengthen, and maintain social networks that provide supportive relationships for behavior change through walking groups or other community-based interventions

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Community-wide physical activity campaigns

Engage a variety of partners in a highly visible, multi-component effort to increase physical activity, often with efforts to address cardiovascular disease risk factors

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Competitive pricing for healthy foods

Assign higher costs to non-nutritious foods than nutritious foods via incentives, subsidies, or price discounts for healthy foods and beverages or disincentives or price increases for unhealthy choices

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Complete Streets & streetscape design initiatives

Enhance streetscapes with greater sidewalk coverage and walkway connectivity, street crossing safety features, traffic calming measures, and other design elements

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Housing and Transit, Diet and Exercise

Comprehensive clinic-based programs for pregnant & parenting teens

Address the needs of teenage mothers via clinic-based programs that provide health care and family planning services as well as case management, counseling, and other supports

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Sexual Activity

Comprehensive firearm background checks

Require checks of a broad set of disqualifying criteria (e.g., misdemeanor convictions, domestic violence restraining orders, and juvenile convictions) prior to handgun purchase

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Community Safety

Comprehensive risk reduction sexual education

Provide information about contraception and protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in classroom or community settings

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Sexual Activity

Comprehensive school reform

Implement a coordinated effort to overhaul school operation, integrating curriculum, instruction, professional development, parent involvement, classroom and school management; also called school-wide or whole school reform

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Education

Computer-based interventions to prevent HIV and other STIs

Provide tailored health information and computer-mediated decision making, behavior change, and emotional support via interactive programs

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Sexual Activity