Characteristics of Needs Assessment Tools

There are lots of different ways to do needs assessments. How will you know which tool will work best for your organization? The items below could serve as a simple checklist for developing a needs assessment that will be appropriate for your project area.

For more information on local public health needs assessment, please see Local Public Health Assessment and Planning.

Does the the tool take into account the following issues?

  • Prevention oriented
  • Epidemiologic profile considered
  • Description of the target populations, not just clients of services
  • Description of needs of target populations
  • Resource inventory
  • How needs are met through available resources: gaps and duplication
  • Prioritization of needs

Is it a tool that could be used in the context of a community planning group?

  • Is it rapid in data collection and analysis time?
  • How much "research" expertise is needed for the tool?
  • How much would it cost to use the tool?

Does the tool include instructions and suggestions for how to use the tool?

  • How easily could it be modified to allow planning groups to adapt the tool to answer the questions they have identified?
  • What type of tool is it? (e.g., Data table, survey instrument, focus group guide, in-depth interview guide, etc.)

Adapted From: "Sample Models and Tools for Conducting Needs Assessment for HIV Prevention Community Planning," National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, 1994. [Attn: Non-MDH link]