Community Health Assessment
- Collecting, analyzing and using data to educate and mobilize communities, develop priorities, garner resources, and plan actions to improve the public's health; and
- The systematic collection and analysis of data in order to provide a basis for decision making. 
In Minnesota, community health assessments are performed for the geographic regions covered by community health boards (CHBs).
A thorough and valid community health assessment is a customary practice and core function of public health, and also is a national standard for all public health departments. Since the passage of the Local Public Health Act in 1976, Minnesota CHBs have been required to engage in a community health improvement process, beginning with a community health assessment. As part of Minnesota’s Local Public Health Assessment and Planning process, every Minnesota CHB submitted its 10 most important community health issues (based on the community health assessment) to MDH in March 2015.
A community health assessment provides the foundation for improving and promoting the health of the community. A community health assessment identifies and describes factors that affect the health of a population, and factors that determine the availability of resources within the community to adequately address health concerns. Through the assessment process, a CHB identifies and describes the health status of the community; factors in the community that contribute to health challenges; and existing community assets and resources that can be mobilized to improve the health status of the community. The community health assessment, therefore, assures that local resources are directed toward activities and interventions that address critical and timely public health needs.
The community health assessment is guided by a community-level partnership. PHAB standard 1.1.1 requires forging a partnership with other organizations to access data, provide various analytical perspectives, present data and findings, and share a commitment to using the data. Members of the partnership should include participants who will provide a broad range of perspectives, represent a variety of groups, sectors, and activities within the community, and bring the necessary resources and enthusiasm to the table. Broad community participation via community meetings, focus groups, and other mechanisms, is necessary to ensure that the process results in a community-driven and owned community health improvement plan.
MDH Support for Process
Staff from the Public Health Practice Section and the Minnesota Center for Health Statistics are available to help with the community health assessment, including data collection, data analysis, and community engagement. Tools, templates, and other supporting materials are available at Community Health Assessment: How to Do It. All guidance and technical assistance are designed to help CHBs meet national public health standards.