Several studies suggest that individuals' health can be influenced by where they live, work, or send their children to school. Communities vary by the health-related assets that are available to their residents. Communities also vary widely when it comes to the disproportionate burden of disease, including diabetes, heart disease, asthma and other illnesses.

Taking stock of the assets in local communities can help residents mobilize around key issues, enhance these resources, improve the health of their residents and reduce health inequities across the Commonwealth.

This chapter provides a snapshot of measures related to community assets. The two main sections within this chapter are Health Care Infrastructure, with an emphasis on the distribution of services, and Community Infrastructure, with an emphasis on assets that encourage healthy eating and active living. The data are presented by the six geographical regions within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). Measures include health care capacity, distribution ratio of health care providers, farmers' markets, comprehensive master planning, public recreation programs, and availability of healthy foods options.

In this chapter

  • What does community mean?
  • Building a Supportive Environment
  • Health Care Infrastructure: Distribution of Resources
  • Community Infrastructures: Supporting Healthy Eating and Active Living
  • Policy Perspectives: Mary Bassett, MD, MPH, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University and Former Deputy Commissioner for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, New York City Health Department and Peter R. Lee, MPH, Director, Mass Partnership for Healthy Communities, Health Resources in Action, Inc.

For more data or information on topics in Chapter 2:

  • Healthcare Workforce Center
    Physicians, dentists and other health professionals are important community assets that are unevenly distributed around the state. For more information on how the state is approaching this issue, visit the MDPH Health Care Workforce Center.

  • There are many things you can do to make sure your city and town has a full range of "community assets" including places to be active and buy healthy food, and policies that promote health and healthy development. For a comprehensive listing of ideas to get you started and links to external sites, visit Mass in Motion.
  • Open Space and Recreational Land
    The Massachusetts Office of Geographic and Environmental Information (MassGIS) maintains an interactive website that allows you to map protected and recreational open space including conservation lands and outdoor recreational facilities in Massachusetts. To map these areas, visit MassGIS.

List of figures and tables




This information is provided by the Department of Public Health.