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Within the field of public health, there is growing awareness of how complex social conditions shape health outcomes and the role that power plays in driving health inequities. Despite public health frameworks lifting up the need to tackle power imbalances to advance equity, there is little guidance on how to accomplish this as an integral part of health promotion.

This article addresses the need for public health professionals to better understand power and identifies opportunities for shifting power to achieve more equitable outcomes. First, it defines power and community power building. Next, it reviews a pragmatic theoretical framework that organizes power into 3 faces: (1) exercising influence in formal decision-making processes; (2) organizing the decision-making environment; and (3) shaping worldviews about social issues. Finally, it connects each face of power to community power-building practices using concrete examples.

Citation: Heller, Jonathan C. PhD; Little, Olivia M. PhD; Faust, Victoria MPA; Tran, Paula MPH; Givens, Marjory L. PhD; Ayers, Jeanne MPH, RN; Farhang, Lili MPH. Theory in Action: Public Health and Community Power Building for Health Equity. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 29(1):p 33-38, January/February 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000001681