RAND Health is developing a web-based tool to determine and enhance the usefulness of community health assessments (CHAs) throughout the United States. CHAs identify and describe community health problems, gaps and strengths in services provided, and interventions to improve the health of the community. The authors performed a literature review to identify factors and criteria for a useful CHA process and then examined individual CHA processes throughout the United States to compile common characteristics for use in the development of their Web-based CHA tool. The authors found wide variation in individual CHA processes, participants, goals, and products. They identified 21 criteria to describe the usefulness of CHAs. CHAs should be consistent in their format for presenting information; include both summary and detailed versions; be well-organized and easy to understand; clearly indicate relationships among related health indicators; include both narrative and graphic presentation of findings; use a structure similar to that of other community planning tools already in use; be available online; and identify data sources used. The CHA document should be a resource to prioritize and plan services, for writing grant applications; and to guide a comprehensive health promotion strategy.
The research in this report was conducted by RAND Health, a unit of the RAND Corporation. It was conducted under contract with the Public Health Information Group of the Center for Community Health in the New York State Department of Health, with financial support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Assessment Initiative.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.
Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.