Developing Cross-Sector Partnerships to Address Social Determinants of Health
Rural communities working to address social determinants of health (SDOH) emphasize the importance of
developing robust, cross-sector partnerships in order to improve community buy-in, have the capacity
to address SDOH, and make the most of limited resources in rural areas. Strong partnerships across sectors can
help programs engage the right audiences as well as pool efforts and
resources to address SDOH. The work of improving health and well-being in communities is challenging
and may involve the coordination of many different SDOH approaches at once. Having a strong network
of partners collaborating towards a common goal can build social capital and help improve the
likelihood that community outcomes will improve and that programs can be sustained for years to come.
Forming lasting partnerships is an essential ingredient for programs working to address SDOH in rural
communities. Finding partners who have similar interests and goals is important to ensure continued
engagement and success. Including partners in the planning of program development and implementation
from the beginning is important to ensuring that all parties are working towards the same goals.
Cross-sector partnerships can help to identify common funding streams. Building coalitions and an
alliance to support the mission is essential to program success.
Identifying and engaging
community champions and local change agents is another important strategy to reach a significant
number of residents and to engage them throughout the duration of a program. Champions who are trusted
community members may be able to develop effective messaging strategies for addressing SDOH and
improving community buy-in.
A coordinated approach engaging many partners is a key component to successfully addressing SDOH.
Examples of the types of stakeholders and partners to be considered to coordinate efforts to address
rural SDOH include:
- Farmers and farmworkers
- Federal, state, and local health and human service agencies
- Healthcare systems and healthcare providers
- Land grant universities and extension offices
- Law enforcement
- Local agencies and businesses
- Nonprofits, such as community- and faith-based organizations
- School systems and higher education
- Transportation providers
- Tribal agencies
- Philanthropic organizations and other funders
The Rural Health Networks and Coalitions Toolkit provides considerations,
resources, and strategies for those who are considering developing a new, or expanding an existing, cross-sector
Resources to Learn More
Tool for Health
Provides an assessment tool to help community-based organizations who are already engaged in partnerships with
healthcare organizations assess and strengthen these existing relationships. Includes additional resources for
developing new partnerships.
Organization(s): Nonprofit Finance Fund, Center for Health Care Strategies, Alliance for
Strong Families and Communities
Describes a framework for a collaborative approach between primary care and public health groups to improve
population health. Includes step-by-step considerations to successfully address an identified health issue.
Organization(s): deBeaumont Foundation, Duke Family Medicine & Community Health, Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention
Change Agents across Sectors to Improve Health and Equity in Rural Communities
Describes project findings related to health improvement change agents across sectors.
Author(s): Meit, M., Phillips, E., Rosenfeld, A., et al.
Organization(s): NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis