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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Health Promotion/Disease Prevention (HPDP)
 

Community Health Assessment

In the 2006-2011 Indian Health Service Strategic Plan [PDF - 3.8MB] and the Prevention Task Force Strategic Plan [PDF - 585KB], American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) communities and IHS have identified Community Assessment as a priority. Assessments assist communities in continuing to direct their own services and to play a key role in the health of the community. Community assessments can occur in multiple ways, and require a considerable commitment of time, leadership, and financial resources by individuals and lead organizations/agencies.

Planning Considerations

Community conderations when implementing and utilizing health assessments.

Important reasons for conducting a community health assessment include:
  • Engaging Tribal and community leadership in identifying and resolving health problems;
  • Identify, agree, and prioritize which health issues will be managed first;
  • Obtain commitments from the community to work together on the problems; and
  • Develop a health plan that will be meaningful to and have support from the community.
Comprehensive community health assessments may include most or all of the following:
  • Establish a coalition of community leaders and organizations to identify the community issues, design the assessment, conduct of the assessment, interpret its findings, prioritize the health problems to be managed, and design a health plan for the community.
  • Identify the health indicators to be measured. These would include indices of community strengths and resources available to resolve health problems; indices of illness and causes of death; and modifiable behavioral risk factors that contributes to poor health and conditions.
  • Collection and interpretation of the health indicator data and reporting of the findings to interested parties. Health data are needed to identify the most important health problems and to provide benchmarks for monitoring change.
  • Selection and prioritization of the health problems to be resolved by the community.
  • Preparation of strategic and work plans to resolve the priority health problems. These include identification of leadership and partners to carrying out proposed plan.
  • Implementation and evaluation of Programs to monitor and improve the selected health problems.

Resources:

The IHS HP/DP staff have organized resources that will be of most interest to AI/AN communities below. In the Future, the HP/DP program would like to add a Community Health Assessment generator and Community Health Assessment online training. For more information on Community Health Assessment tools, click on the IHS HP/DP Community Assessment Tool Presentation link below.

AI/AN specific Community Health Assessment Tools

View tools that have been developed and/or tested in American Indian and Alaskan Native Communities.
  • Indian Community Health Profile Tool kit Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov [PDF]
    Project staff from the Northwest Portland (Ore.) Area Indian Health Board worked with local Native American health leaders to revise and pilot test a newly created Indian Community Health Profile, which local tribes can use to assess the health status of the tribal community and monitor its progress over time. This project was originally supported by the Indian Health Service and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as identified in this report.
  • Restoring Balance
    Restoring Balance trains local leaders in health promotion and community development, empowering them to deal with serious health and other issues in their communities. The new Restoring Balance manual might be considered as a culturally tailored way to complete a number of the steps of a Community Health Assessment. For example, Restoring Balance helps mobilize the community (e.g., community organization) and helps communities envision what they want the health of the community to be (e.g., health planning). However, Restoring Balance does not include detailed methods of conducting data collection and analytical steps (e.g., focus groups, population surveys, etc...); therefore, additional resources will be needed to accomodate the Restoring Balance manual when considering community assessments.
  • Everybody Wins: Involving Youth in Community Needs Assessment Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
    Community Health Assessments require large amounts of resources. This article presents a strategy for integrating community service learning with community development. It builds upon two methods in rural development: needs assessment and incorporating public schools in the development process. The strategy provides a way to conduct a valid needs assessment using survey research methods, while keeping costs low and involvement of local people high. It also provides an opportunity for students to have classroom and experiential learning on community development and needs assessment. This strategy has been tested in Florida and Kentucky.

    Other Community Health Assessment Tools

    View tools that have been developed and/or tested in the general population.
    • The Community Tool Box (Kansas) Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
      The Community Tool Box is the world's largest resource for free information on essential skills for building healthy communities. It offers more than 7,000 pages of practical guidance in creating change and improvement, and is growing as a global resource for this work. Assessments fall under "2. Assessing Community Needs and Resources" of the "Do the Work" link on the Tool Box homepage.
    • Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
      Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) is a community-driven strategic planning tool for improving community health. Facilitated by public health leaders, this tool helps communities apply strategic thinking to prioritize public health issues and identify resources to address them. MAPP is not an agency-focused assessment tool; rather, it is an interactive process that can improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and ultimately the performance of local public health systems.
    • Missouri Information for Community Assessment (MICA) Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
      Missouri Information for Community Assessment (MICA) is an interactive system that allows the user to create and download tables, based on selected variables from the various state data files. While MICA is specific to Missouri, this might give communities ideas of different sources of data during the data collection step of community assessment.
    • Community Needs Assessment Tools Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov [PPT]
      A general Community Needs Assessment Tools PowerPoint presentation describing different types of assessments.

    Data Analysis

    View tools that might help with data entry and analysis.
    • CDC Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Program Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
      The CDC Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) is an interactive database system that provides customized reports of injury-related data from the national Center of Health Statistics (NCHS) and the violent death data from NCIPC's National Violent Death Reporting System. This system is commonly used among AI/AN communities to produce national estimates of the Leading Causes of Death Reports and Leading Causes of Years of Potential Life Lost sample. The WISQARS program totals all deaths and YPLLs on reports when choosing more than one year; persons interested in obtaining the average over a multi-year period will need to divide by the number of years in the report. Click on the following links for a Leading Causes of Death Among American Indian and Alaskan Natives, US -- 2001-2005 Report [PDF - 24KB]or for a Years of Potential Life Lost Among American Indians and Alaskan Natives, US -- 2001-2005 Report [PDF - 39KB]
    • Missouri Information for Community Assessment (MICA) Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
      Missouri Information for Community Assessment (MICA) is an interactive system that allows the user to create and download tables, based on selected variables from the various state data files. While MICA is specific to Missouri, this might give communities ideas of different sources of data during the data collection step of community assessment.
    • The Epi Info™ Community Health Assessment Tutorial Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
      This tutorial introduces you to the basic concepts of Epi Info™ with a series of ten lessons plus an Intermediate Analysis lesson that covers more advanced concepts. The survey and datasets presented here relate to Community Health Assessments, and specifically Asthma; however, they can be used to teach the Epi Info™ program to any user, and to illustrate how the program can be used to gather, analyze, and present data. The Epi Info™ Community Health Assessment Tutorial was produced by the collaborative efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Assessment Initiative (AI), and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).
    • CDC EZ-Text Software Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
      "CDC EZ-Text" is a software program developed to assist researchers create, manage, and analyze semi-structured qualitative databases. This would be helpful for structured analysis of formal interviews or focus groups. Copies of the EZ-Text software and user documentation can be downloaded free of charge from this web site.
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