community assessment

 

Perform a community assessment and describe the tools utilized to accurately define your community

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Overview
In  this module, you will complete a full assessment of your own community.  You may build upon this assessment in Community Health II by planning,  implementing and evaluating a project within your community designed to  address primary prevention of an identified health concern.
Defining the Community
Your community can be any geographically defined county, city, or town. Clearly delineate the following dimensions before starting the process of community assessment:

Describe the population that is being assessed?
What is/are the race(s) of this population within the community?
Are there boundaries of this group? If so, what are they?
Does this community exist within a certain city or county?
Are there general characteristics that separate this group from others?
Education levels, birth/death rates, age of deaths, insured/uninsured?
Where is this group located geographically…? Urban/rural?
Why is a community assessment being performed? What purpose will it serve?
How will information for the community assessment be collected?

Assessment
After  the community has been defined, the next phase is assessment. The  following items describe several resources and methods that can be used  to gather and generate data. These items serve as a starting point for  data collection. This is not an all-inclusive list of resources and  methods that may be used when a community assessment is conducted.
The  time frame for completion of the assessment may influence which methods  are used. Nonetheless, these items should be reviewed to determine what  information will be useful to collect about the community that is being  assessed. It is not necessary to use all of these resources and  methods; however, use of a variety of methods is helpful when one is  exploring the needs of a community.
Data Gathering (collecting information that already exists)
Demographics of the Community

When demographic data are collected, it is useful to collect data from a variety of levels so comparisons can be made.
If  the population that is being assessed is located within a specific  setting, it may be best to contact that agency to retrieve specific  information about that population.
The following resources provide a broad overview of the demographics of a city, county, or state:
State and County Quick Facts—Easy access to facts about population, housing, economics, geographic data, business, based on U.S. Census data
Obtain information about a specific city or county on these useful websites www.epodunk.com and www.city-data.com 

Information from Government Agencies

Healthy People 2020—this  resource is published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human  Services. It identifies health improvement goals and objectives for the  country to be reached by the year 2020
 
National Center for Health Statistics—this  agency is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; this  website provides statistical information about the health of Americans
 

National Vital Statistics System

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—The  CDC website contains a large amount of information related to the  health of the American population. The search engine within this website  can be used to find relevant information
 
Federal agencies with statistical programs
 
Every  state in the United States has its own specific health improvement plan  and goals that are based on the Healthy People 2020 document. This  information may be available on the state health department website.
 
State and local health departments provide information related to vital statistics for the community.
 

Other Data Sources

America’s Health Rankings—this website provides information about various health indicators for each state: https://www.americashealthrankings.org/
 
Other  relevant data sources may be found by conducting an Internet search  related to the topic that is being examined through the community  assessment.
 

After  data are collected from various sources, it is important to review the  information and to identify assets and areas for improvement in the  community by comparing local data (if available) versus state and  national data. This will facilitate organization of the information that  has already been obtained and will provide direction for the next step  of the process.
Data Generation (data are developed that do not already exist):
Windshield Surveys
With  the use of public transportation or by driving a vehicle around the  community, one can observe common characteristics of the community.
Examples of key observations to make when one is assessing the community through a windshield survey include the following:

Age of the homes in the community
 
Location of parks and other recreational areas
 
Amount of space between homes and businesses
 
Neighborhood hangouts
 
Transportation in the community
 
Quality and safety of streets and sidewalks
 
Stores and other businesses
 
People out in the community
 
Cleanliness of the community
 
Billboards or other media displays
 
Places of worship
 
Healthcare facilities
 

Participant Observation
Spend  time observing the population that is being assessed. Through  observation of interactions among group members, much can be learned  about the community, including the following:

Developmental level of the population
 
Effectiveness of peer-to-peer interactions
 
Respect for peers and others
 
Safety in the environment
 
Economic status
 

Informant Interviews
Informants could be people who are familiar with and interact with the population on a regular basis.
Examples of questions that may be asked of key informants include the following:

Strengths/assets of the community
 
Areas of improvement for the community
 
Concerns of community members
 
Access to health care
 
Emergency plans for natural or man-made disasters
 

Focus Groups
Focus  groups (usually small groups of 6-12 people) can be helpful when one is  gathering information about specific areas of concern within the  population. Use of a focus group involves open dialogue about the  population, whereas an interview or survey yields only individual  responses.

Focus groups may be effective for assessing the following:
 
Satisfaction with services provided
 
Community resources used
 
Transportation issues within the community
 
Safety within the community
 
General concerns of members of the population
 

Surveys
Surveys  may be used to collect data from the community. Selecting a sample of  the target population may prove helpful in the collection of data that  are easier to analyze. It is important to ensure that the sample is  representative of the target population.
A  survey should be developed that takes into consideration the  developmental level of the group that is being assessed. Questions  should be written at the appropriate developmental level, so they are  answered in a way that makes the data useful. Surveys might include  closed-ended (yes/no), multiple choice (several responses to choose  from), Likert scale (Strongly Agree/Agree/Neutral/Disagree/Strongly  Disagree), or open-ended (“why”/“how”) questions.
Topics that may be addressed in a survey include the following:

Demographic information
 
Status of employment
 
Safety within community
 
Safety in environment
 
Personal safety (seatbelts, helmets, etc.)
 
Stressors/stress management patterns
 
Risky behaviors
 
Support systems
 
Volunteer/community activities
 
Rest patterns
 
Nutrition
 
Dental hygiene
 
Health promotion activities
 

Learning Materials

N492 Signature Assignment Rubric v1.1
Demographics of the Community
 

When demographic data are collected, it is useful to collect data from a variety of levels so comparisons can be made.
 
If  the population that is being assessed is located within a specific  setting, it may be best to contact that agency to retrieve specific  information about that population.
 
The following resources provide a broad overview of the demographics of a city, county, or state:
 
State and County Quick Facts—Easy access to facts about population, housing, economics, geographic data, business, based on U.S. Census data 
Obtain information about a specific city or county on these useful websites: www.epodunk.com and www.city-data.com
 

Information from Government Agencies
 

Healthy People 2020—this  resource is published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human  Services. It identifies health improvement goals and objectives for the  country to be reached by the year 2020
 
National Center for Health Statistics—this  agency is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; this  website provides statistical information about the health of Americans
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—The  CDC website contains a large amount of information related to the  health of the American population. The search engine within this website  can be used to find relevant information
 
Federal agencies with statistical programs
 
Every  state in the United States has its own specific health improvement plan  and goals that are based on the Healthy People 2020 document. This  information may be available on the state health department website.
 
State and local health departments provide information related to vital statistics for the community.
 

Other Data Sources
 

America’s Health Rankings—this website provides information about various health indicators for each state: https://www.americashealthrankings.org/
 

Other  relevant data sources may be found by conducting an Internet search  related to the topic that is being examined through the community  assessment.

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