Community Needs Assessment

Community Needs Assessment

The community environmental health education needs assessment is designed to assist communities and local health departments in working collaboratively with communities to identify environmental health education needs and to develop and implement education programs to meet those needs. Contact the Chemical Hazards Program for more information and assistance.

Part I. Organizing Available Information

The needs assessment process begins by gathering, evaluating, and organizing information already available from federal and state agencies, local governments, public repositories, the Internet, and many other sources. For example, identifying community resources (local officials, media, environmental groups), contact information, identifying outside resources, describing the site and significant events in its history, characterizing the area surrounding the site, and detailing perceived and actual health concerns.
 
Part II. Developing an Approach for Community Collaboration
 
There are a number of approaches for collaborating with the community, ranging from highly formal to informal. This part of the needs assessment process may be based on one of several models of community collaboration. Choosing one will depend on a number of factors such as the level of community involvement and organization, the existence of recent or long-standing public health threats or concerns, and the demographics of the community.
 
Part III. Developing a Community Profile
 
The community profile consists of the following information: community demographics (e.g. age, gender, race/ethnicity, religious preferences, literacy rates); details about each identified target population; practices or behaviors that place these populations at risk, and barriers to reaching each of the target populations.
 
Part IV. Performing a Needs Assessment
 
This is conducted in collaboration with the community. Factors that define an education need, such as community concerns and knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, are identified through research and communication with the affected public. Needs assessment methods include observation, focus groups, advisory groups, and surveys.
 
Part V. Developing an Action Plan
 
The needs assessment process concludes with the determination of priorities and development of an action plan that includes goals, measurable objectives, a program evaluation plan, and prioritized recommendations for public education activities and materials.