The Division of Community Health in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the Duke University School of Medicine, began in 1996 as the Office of Primary Care Initiatives, formally becoming a division in 1998. The division has launched more than 47 collaborative, community-based clinical, care management, educational, and research initiatives across six North Carolina counties. These counties include Durham, Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance, and Warren.

The division is staffed by individuals in such diverse positions as community health worker, registered dietitian, research analyst, and health educator, among many others.


Improving Community Outcomes at the intersection of Health, Place, and Equity.


To improve health and health equity with communities by generating ideas, strategies, and systems that build capacity and resilience. The Division of Community Health engages Duke researchers, learners and providers to advance the knowledge and practice of community health improvement.

Division History

The impetus to improve health care for the Durham community skyrocketed when the Division of Community Health became a full-fledged clinical division of Duke University Medical Center on July 1, 1998. This academic group has gained prominence on the national stage by showcasing how it excels in analyzing population needs, designing interventions, testing them and disseminating knowledge. Though 45 collaborative, community-based clinical, care management, education and research initiatives across seven state counties form quite a track record, the team isn’t resting on its laurels.

Read More Community Health History

What is Community Health?

Community is defined as a group of people linked by social ties sharing common perspectives or interests who may or may not share a geographic location. Community members have characteristics in common, such as common culture or ethnic heritage, where they live, similar age, speaking the same language, religion. Communities are not homogeneous and seldom speak with one voice.

Community health is fostering system integration that implements indigenous solutions to end the pathology of chronic (i.e. disease, environmental or social) conditions. Duke’s Division of Community Health strives to improve integration of social and health delivery systems. Residing in a resource challenged community for the past 20 years; the division acts as organizer, researcher, educator, integrator, and facilitator enhancing capacity and capabilities of neighbors, learners, providers, caregivers, institutions and communities.