Ohio University Community Health Assessment Discussion

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After completing this module, you will be able to do the following:

  • Perform a community assessment and describe the tools utilized to accurately define your community


In this module, you will complete a full assessment of your own community. You may build upon this assessment in Community Health II by planning, implementing and evaluating a project within your community designed to address primary prevention of an identified health concern.

Defining the Community

Your community can be any geographically defined county, city, or town. Clearly delineate the following dimensions before starting the process of community assessment:

  • Describe the population that is being assessed?
  • What is/are the race(s) of this population within the community?
  • Are there boundaries of this group? If so, what are they?
  • Does this community exist within a certain city or county?
  • Are there general characteristics that separate this group from others?
  • Education levels, birth/death rates, age of deaths, insured/uninsured?
  • Where is this group located geographically…? Urban/rural?
  • Why is a community assessment being performed? What purpose will it serve?
  • How will information for the community assessment be collected?


After the community has been defined, the next phase is assessment. The following items describe several resources and methods that can be used to gather and generate data. These items serve as a starting point for data collection. This is not an all-inclusive list of resources and methods that may be used when a community assessment is conducted.

The time frame for completion of the assessment may influence which methods are used. Nonetheless, these items should be reviewed to determine what information will be useful to collect about the community that is being assessed. It is not necessary to use all of these resources and methods; however, use of a variety of methods is helpful when one is exploring the needs of a community.

Data Gathering (collecting information that already exists)

Demographics of the Community

    • When demographic data are collected, it is useful to collect data from a variety of levels so comparisons can be made.
    • If the population that is being assessed is located within a specific setting, it may be best to contact that agency to retrieve specific information about that population.
    • The following resources provide a broad overview of the demographics of a city, county, or state:
    • State and County Quick Facts—Easy access to facts about population, housing, economics, geographic data, business, based on U.S. Census data
    • Obtain information about a specific city or county on these useful websites www.epodunk.com and www.city-data.com

    Information from Government Agencies

    • Healthy People 2020—this resource is published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It identifies health improvement goals and objectives for the country to be reached by the year 2020
    • National Center for Health Statistics—this agency is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; this website provides statistical information about the health of Americans
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—The CDC website contains a large amount of information related to the health of the American population. The search engine within this website can be used to find relevant information
    • Federal agencies with statistical programs
    • Every state in the United States has its own specific health improvement plan and goals that are based on the Healthy People 2020 document. This information may be available on the state health department website.
    • State and local health departments provide information related to vital statistics for the community.

    Other Data Sources

    • America’s Health Rankings—this website provides information about various health indicators for each state: https://www.americashealthrankings.org/
    • Other relevant data sources may be found by conducting an Internet search related to the topic that is being examined through the community assessment.

    After data are collected from various sources, it is important to review the information and to identify assets and areas for improvement in the community by comparing local data (if available) versus state and national data. This will facilitate organization of the information that has already been obtained and will provide direction for the next step of the process.

    Data Generation (data are developed that do not already exist):

    Windshield Surveys

    With the use of public transportation or by driving a vehicle around the community, one can observe common characteristics of the community.

    Examples of key observations to make when one is assessing the community through a windshield survey include the following:

    • Age of the homes in the community
    • Location of parks and other recreational areas
    • Amount of space between homes and businesses
    • Neighborhood hangouts
    • Transportation in the community
    • Quality and safety of streets and sidewalks
    • Stores and other businesses
    • People out in the community
    • Cleanliness of the community
    • Billboards or other media displays
    • Places of worship
    • Healthcare facilities

    Participant Observation

    Spend time observing the population that is being assessed. Through observation of interactions among group members, much can be learned about the community, including the following:

    • Developmental level of the population
    • Effectiveness of peer-to-peer interactions
    • Respect for peers and others
    • Safety in the environment
    • Economic status

    Informant Interviews

    Informants could be people who are familiar with and interact with the population on a regular basis.

    Examples of questions that may be asked of key informants include the following:

    • Strengths/assets of the community
    • Areas of improvement for the community
    • Concerns of community members
    • Access to health care
    • Emergency plans for natural or man-made disasters

    Focus Groups

    Focus groups (usually small groups of 6-12 people) can be helpful when one is gathering information about specific areas of concern within the population. Use of a focus group involves open dialogue about the population, whereas an interview or survey yields only individual responses.

    • Focus groups may be effective for assessing the following:
    • Satisfaction with services provided
    • Community resources used
    • Transportation issues within the community
    • Safety within the community
    • General concerns of members of the population


    Surveys may be used to collect data from the community. Selecting a sample of the target population may prove helpful in the collection of data that are easier to analyze. It is important to ensure that the sample is representative of the target population.

    A survey should be developed that takes into consideration the developmental level of the group that is being assessed. Questions should be written at the appropriate developmental level, so they are answered in a way that makes the data useful. Surveys might include closed-ended (yes/no), multiple choice (several responses to choose from), Likert scale (Strongly Agree/Agree/Neutral/Disagree/Strongly Disagree), or open-ended (“why”/“how”) questions.

    Topics that may be addressed in a survey include the following:

    • Demographic information
    • Status of employment
    • Safety within community
    • Safety in environment
    • Personal safety (seatbelts, helmets, etc.)
    • Stressors/stress management patterns
    • Risky behaviors
    • Support systems
    • Volunteer/community activities
    • Rest patterns
    • Nutrition
    • Dental hygiene
    • Health promotion activities

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    Explanation & Answer



    Community Health Assessment
    Student Name
    University Name




    Community Health Assessment
    Homelessness is still a major social issue that affects health in various developed
    countries (CEA, 2019). Particularly, homelessness in San Diego has been exhibited as a huge
    challenge to enhancing the health status of the community at large. Homelessness is seen as a
    cause as well as a result of poverty in the US due to housing instability (Evans, Phillips &
    Ruffini, 2019). Despite that homelessness is a social issue; it also poses a huge risk factor on
    health among the homeless. Furthermore, the US Department of Health and Human Services
    has indicated that homelessness is an issue that impacts health under the economic stability
    Henry et al. (2020) illustrates that San Diego is among the major cities in California
    with the highest number of homeless people. Penn, Delange & Blatt (2016) asserts that
    housing and homelessness issues are key impediments to successfully meeting the health
    demands of the population, and this is particularly the case for behavioral health.
    Furthermore, the youth were mainly affected by homelessness, whereby they were likely to
    engage into risk behavior such as substance abuse as well as likely to suffer from mental
    illnesses. Furthermore, it was pointed out that homelessness directly impacts health by
    exposing them to various contagious and infectious diseases (UCSDH, 2019).
    In this light, it is important to determine the impacts of homelessness on health in San
    Diego. This will entail performing a community health assessment that will specifically focus
    on the impacts of homelessness on the youth with regard to their health. The study will assess
    homelessness on all youth, regardless of their race or ethnic background, since the issue
    affects individuals of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. The issue will be based on an
    urban setting of San Diego since homelessness is prevalent in the urban cities. The purpose of



    this community assessment will be to identify the health risks associated with homelessness
    and come up with a community outreach project aimed at tackling homelessness among the
    youth so as to improve their health status. The assessment will utilize various official
    secondary data sources to determine the demographics and possible impacts of homelessness
    on health among the youth population.

    Homelessness among the Youth in San Diego
    According to US DHHS (2020), economic stability is a critical social determinant of
    health. Economic stability entails identifying how issues such as poverty, income, and
    homelessness pose risks on the well-being of individuals within a community and society in
    general. Economic stability issues, such as homelessness, has been identified as a major
    challenge that affects health by impeding access to health services as well as a major barrier
    to addressing behavioral issues among the homeless population. Inability to access health
    services among the homeless has been shown to increase the severity of mental illnesses,
    effects of substance abuse, as well as poor nutrition in the population.
    This assessment will, nonetheless, focus on children and youth since they are the most
    vulnerable population as well as have the highest tendency to engage in health risk behaviors.
    CDC (2019) demonstrates that the youth were mainly likely to engage health risk behavior
    including unprotected sexual intercourse, substance abuse, and early pregnancy, which have
    negative impacts on their health. Furthermore, it is even much worse if they are unable to
    access basic requirements such as good nutrition and health care needs. More than...

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