Social and Community Networks

Toward an Initial Conceptual Framework to Assess Community Allostatic Load

Early Themes from Literature Review and Community Analyses on the Role of Cumulative Community Stress

 

Understanding extant stress levels within a community can help inform how it responds to acute or traumatic events. This report presents a concept of community allostatic load based on that of individual allostatic load — how stress, trauma, and adverse experiences can significantly affect individual health. The framework outlined in this report could be used to develop a concept for determining the allostatic load level of a community.

The goal is to use such a framework to help public health practitioners and other community leaders better explain, support, and mitigate stress levels community-wide and to work to create conditions that promote health and well-being. To push forward this new way of thinking about communities and stress, researchers at the RAND Corporation working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation developed an initial framework conceptualizing community allostatic load. While this work is formative and principally a proof of concept, the framework can help build a general appreciation of community stress for use by practitioners and policy leaders; offer new ways to measure community health and well-being; and support efforts by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to better consider community stress in the context of health equity and to create a framework that contains drivers to build a healthier nation, known as the Culture of Health.

 

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