Jan 14, 2016
This report summarizes a structured review to understand what the current scientific literature presents about the empirical relationship between health and civic engagement. It describes whether health is a cause of civic engagement, a consequence of it, or both; what causal mechanisms underlie this link; and where there are gaps in knowledge. Future research should continue to explore the causal mechanisms that support civic engagement.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is leading a pioneering effort to advance a culture of health that "enables all in our diverse society to lead healthier lives, now and for generations to come." The RWJF Culture of Health Action Framework is divided into four Action Areas, and civic engagement (which RWJF defines broadly as participating in activities that advance the public good) is identified as one of the three drivers for the Action Area, Making Health a Shared Value, along with mindset and expectations, and sense of community. Civic engagement can serve as a mechanism for translating changes in a health-related mindset and sense of community into tangible actions that could lead to new health-promoting partnerships, improvements in community health conditions, and the degree of integration among health services and systems for better health outcomes.
The authors of this report seek a closer focus on the causal relationship between civic engagement and health and well-being — that is, whether better health and well-being might promote more civic engagement, whether civic engagement might promote health or well-being, or perhaps both.
In this report, authors conduct a structured review to understand what the scientific literature presents about the empirical relationship between health and civic engagement. The authors specifically examine whether health is a cause of civic engagement, a consequence of it, or both; what causal mechanisms underlie this link; and where there are gaps in knowledge for the field.
Health and Voting Participation
Other Forms of Civic Engagement
Evidence on Civic Engagement-Oriented Interventions
Next Steps for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Field
Data Abstraction Form
Detailed Findings on Articles Described in the Report