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Questions to Ask and Answer:

  • Who is affected and how?
  • What resources do we have?
  • What resources do we need?

Assess both needs and assets (resources) in your community.
This will help you get a sense of what you can do, versus what you would like to do.

Work together as a coalition to set priorities.
What do community members and key stakeholders see as the most important issues? Consider feasibility, effectiveness, and measurability as you determine your priorities.

Start collecting state and local data to paint a realistic picture of community needs.
The data you collect during the assessment phase will serve as baseline data. Baseline data provide information before you start a program or intervention. They allow you to track your progress.

Dig Deeper: Getting at the Roots of the Issue
Social Determinants of Health

Start a dialogue about the underlying causes of poor health or quality of life in your community. How do the 5 social determinants of health discussed in Healthy People relate to your issue(s)?

  1. How does the physical environment affect the health of your community (for example: water and air quality, availability of safe walking paths or sidewalks, housing standards)?
  2. How does access to health services affect the health of your community?
  3. How do biology and genetics affect the health issue you are trying to address?
  4. How does the social environment affect the health of your community (for example: income level, education level, unemployment, language)?
  5. How does individual behavior affect the health issue you are trying to address?

Are there interventions and/or strategies you can adopt to effect change at the root level, ultimately improving the health of your community?


Field Notes: Kansas

Kansas determined priority health issues through its Healthy Kansas 2000 Steering Committee, which evaluated health data, sought expert opinions, invited public comments, and conducted an opinion survey of residents. Kansas used a consensus method to limit the scope of its objectives to 7 priority health areas and 4 disease risk factors. The 7 priority health areas were alcohol and drug abuse, cancer, heart disease, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, infectious diseases and immunizations, injuries and violence, and maternal and infant health. The 4 risk factors were lack of access to preventive care, tobacco use, poor nutrition, and lack of physical activity. 


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