How to Do It - Community Health Assessment - Local Public Health Assessment and Planning - Minnesota Dept. of Health
How to Do It
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Conducting a Community Health Assessment

Choose a step below to learn more about how it contributes to this process.

Process Diagram

1. Organize

1A. Recruit a Planning Team

This team could include:

CHS administrator/director
CHS department directors
CHS supervisors
Key public health staff

ImgCommunity Health Assessment in Minnesota (PDF)

ImgNonprofit Hospitals and Community Health Assessments (PDF)

1B. Choose, Adapt or Design an Assessment and Planning Process

Two effective assessment/planning models referenced in the national standards are:

ImgMAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships)

ImgThe Community Toolbox esp. Healthy Cities/Healthy Communities

1C. Recruit a Partnership Group to Guide the Assessment

Identify who needs and who wants to be involved. Make sure the roles for partnership members are clearly communicated (be clear about the charge of the group). The community health assessment partnership should reflect the community, and may include representatives of:

  • The county board
  • The CHB
  • Hospitals and health care providers
  • Other county departments (social services, public safety, etc.)
  • School districts
  • Special populations (racial and ethnic groups; age groups; persons with disabilities)
  • The business community
  • Community non-profit organizations

ImgStakeholder Identification (DOC)

1D. Set Meeting Dates, Times and Locations

The schedule of meetings should respect the time commitments of the partnership; if community members are involved, some meetings may need to be held in the evening or on weekends.

1E. Develop Communications

Good communications will be essential for keeping your assessment and planning processes on track and for keeping your planning team and partnership engaged. Use the Communications Plan tool to help determine the communications needs of all those involved in the process.

ImgCommunications Plan (DOC)

2. Plan the Assessment in Partnership

2A. Agree on Leadership, the Decision-Making Process for the Partnership, and a Vision

For the partnership to form into a functional group, members will need to determine together how decisions will be made throughout the assessment and planning process. Once they have decided together on how they will operate, they should identify a vision for the future of the community’s health, which will serve as a reference point not only during the assessment but also as the partnership moves from the community health assessment into the community health improvement planning process.

ImgMAPP: Visioning [NACCHO]

2B. Review Background Documents Together

These may include:

  • Definition and purpose of a community health assessment (establish common ground)
  • Statutory requirements; PHAB standards for community health assessments
  • The Health of Minnesota: Statewide Health Assessment
  • Previous community health assessments
  • Sample hospital health assessments/IRS requirements for hospitals

2C. Create a Work Plan and Timeline

  • Level of data/information to be brought to the partnership for review and discussion
  • Schedule of topics for partnership review
  • Criteria for prioritizing findings
  • Plan for documentation and communication

3. Gather and Analyze Assessment Data

3A. Gather/Compile Data From a Variety of Sources

Data sources for community health assessment can be very diverse. The Minnesota Center for Health Statistics (MCHS) and Public Health Practice Section have developed County-Level Indicators for community health assessment, which is a listing of indicators across multiple public health categories and from various data sources that can be used for your health assessment. This tool includes 114 indicators, as well as links to county and CHB data.

ImgCounty-Level Indicators for Community Health Assessment [Minnesota Center for Health Statistics]

Other sources of information may include:

  • Regional economic analysis
  • Hospital data
  • Other organizational assessments, such as Head Start
  • Community opinion/behavioral surveys
  • School district data

Partnership members also may be able to suggest and/or supply data on the community.

3B. Summarize and Analyze Data

  • Identify trends, emerging concerns
  • Look both for areas of improvement and areas that have worsened
  • Ask questions of the data: what does this mean? What does this trend imply? What are the implications for health?
  • Refer to partners and staff to add understanding and meaning to the numbers

3C. Continue to Collect and Analyze Data as Needed

Gathering data may occur in several rounds as questions arise and additional information is needed.

3D. Identify Priority Issues

While gathering and analyzing data, look for issues that emerge as particular concerns. Work with the partnership to clearly define and describe these critical issues. Use the decision-making process (from Step 2) to decide on key community health issues.

Each community health board submitted its 10 most important community health issues to MDH in March 2015

4. Document and Communicate Findings

4A. Prepare Print and/or Web-Based Documentation of Community Health Assessment Findings

This is important to prepare for and support the community health improvement plan process.

4B. Share Findings with the Community

Share key findings with decision makers and the public.