Assessing Community Needs

Word limit: 10 pages maximum (not including title page, references or appendices)
Rationale: Most health promotion projects start with an assessment of needs, which may also be called community diagnosis or problem definition. Without an assessment of need within a community, public health may become reactive to health problems as they occur rather than planning for and creating health in a community (Baum 2008, p. 203). Hence, a critical aspect of learning the principles and practices of health promotion program planning is to be able to undertake a needs assessment.
Purpose: This assessment item will enable you to:
assess the need and capacity for a particular health promotion program to address a nutrition health problem in a community simulate a needs assessment process for a nutrition health promotion program report on this process professionally and concisely develop negotiating and team skills to successfully work in small groups; and develop skills in liaising with health professionals.
Process for the needs assessment and preparing the report:
Your needs assessment should answer the following questions as fully as possible, so use these questions as a guide (Ref: Penchon, Guest, Melzer & Gray 2001; Hawe, P 1990).
What is the problem? Identify the health problem to be addressed in the defined population. What is the size and nature of the problem? Refer to various sources of secondary data What are the current services? Identify existing services and interventions and establish their effectiveness. Consult professionals and other stakeholders What are the needs of your population group? Consult with community. What are the factors associated with or contributing to the health problem? Secondary and primary data can be used. Identify interventions by reviewing the literature. Find and appraise. What are the resource implications? Choose between competing ways of meeting needs and decide on competing priorities “ resources are always limited. Justify your decisions.
What are the recommendations and priorities for action?
You are not expected to carry out all aspects of this needs assessment within an actual population group. You will be able to source secondary data (e.g. Government bodies, NGOs etc), do a brief literature review of interventions and consult with professionals and other stakeholders. However, you should not conduct a focus group or interviews with community members. Instead, you should provide the details of how you would conduct such activities, and provide a list of the questions you might ask.
You will need to divide up the tasks required of a needs assessment amongst your group but should communicate with each other about your findings. Each student must identify which part of the needs assessment they managed on your title page. The way in which you allocate the tasks is up to your group. So your report can appear as a cohesive document, all team members should be involved in editing and formatting. Note that each student will receive a mark averaged across the group, so it is in each of your interests that the team performs well.
The suggested format for the report includes: executive summary an introduction; background to the health issue (from the secondary data analysis including details of the target group/community); the literature review focussed on current interventions; plans for primary data collection; recommendations for the nutrition intervention.
The report should be presented in a professional style and conform to the following requirements: margins are to be no smaller than 2cm use 1.5 line spacing font should be a minimum of either 12 point Times New Roman font or 11 point Arial font.

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