Community health assessment is the foundation for improving and promoting the health of community members. The role of community assessment is to identify factors that affect the health of a population and determine the availability of resources within the community to adequately address these factors. It is a "systematic collection, assembly, analysis, and dissemination of information about the health of the community".
Through collaborative efforts forged among community leaders, public health agencies, businesses, hospitals, private practitioners, and academic centers, a community assessment team works to identify, collect, analyze, and disseminate information on community assets, strengths, resources, and needs. A Community Health Assessment usually culminates in a report or a presentation that includes information about the health of the community as it is today and about the community's capacity to improve the lives of residents. By providing the basis for discussion and action, Community Health Assessment is the foundation for improving and promoting the health of community members.
Please refer to the Consolidated Agreement Language for Local Health Departments (PDF, 20 KB). Community Health Assessments are required by G.S. 130A-34.1 as part of the local health department accreditation process.
The North Carolina Community Health Assessment process engages communities in eight-phases which are thoroughly described in the Community Health Assessment Guide Book (PDF, 1.3 MB). The Guide Book provides communities with a systematic way of engaging residents in assessing problems and strategizing solutions. The Guide Book sets the standard for North Carolina counties to follow on how to conduct a comprehensive and collaborative community health assessment.
The eight phases are as follows...
The first step is to establish a Community Health Assessment Team that will lead the community assessment process. This group should consist of motivated individuals who can act as advocates for a broad range of community members and can appropriately represent the concerns of various populations within the community. If a group already exists -- such as a Healthy Carolinians partnership or a health department and hospital collaboration -- then there is no need to establish a new one.
In this phase, the Community Health Assessment Team will collect local data to discover the community's viewpoint and concerns about life in the community, health concerns, and other issues important to the people. Community interest goes beyond the information given in the County Health Data Books and is important in assessing the status of the community according to the people. Information is included to assist with collecting primary community data for example, guidelines for interviews, listening sessions and focus groups along with instructions on assets mapping.
In this phase, the Community Health Assessment Team will compare the county's health statistics with those of the state and previous years to identify possible health problems in the community. Local data that other agencies or institutions have researched can be included in the analysis. Putting this information together will give a picture of what's happening in the county.
In this phase, the Community Health Assessment Team will review the data from Phases 2 and 3 in detail. The text explains various data issues and guides the Team in interpreting and fitting together the health statistics with the community data. By the end of this phase, the Team will have a basic understanding of the community's major health issues.
The Community Health Assessment Team will report the results of the assessment to the community and seek their input and feedback on it. This phase includes practical methods and suggestions on how to approach the community. Then, the Community Health Assessment Team along with other community members will determine the priority health issues to be addressed. This section presents various methods of setting priorities to the community health issues that emerged in Phase 4.
In this phase, the Community Health Assessment Team will develop a stand-alone report to document the process as well as the findings of the entire assessment effort. The purpose of this report is to share assessment results and plans with the entire community and other interested stakeholders. At the end of this phase, the community will be ready to move from assessment to action by developing the Community Health Action Plans.
In this phase, the Community Health Assessment Team will let the community know what the findings of the community health assessment. This chapter includes several ideas and examples about how to reach out and publicize this information throughout the area.
In this phase, the Community Health Assessment Team will develop a plan of action for addressing the health issues deemed as priorities in Phase 5. It includes tools for developing intervention and prevention activities.
More detailed information about each phase can be found in the Community Health Assessment Guide Book (PDF, 1.3 MB).
During the three interim years between Community Health Assessments, the local health departments are required to do a State-of-the-County's Health (SOTCH) Report that will:
The State-of-the-County's Health Report includes the following: