5 Steps to Conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA)

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1. Define the Community

The first step in conducting a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) is to define the community that will be served. This may be a geographic area, such as a city, county, or state, or it may be a population group, such as all people with a certain chronic disease or all people living in poverty.

To define the community, it is important to consider the following factors:

Geographic boundaries: What are the physical boundaries of the community?
Population demographics: Who are the people who live in the community? What are their ages, races, ethnicities, genders, income levels, and education levels?
Community assets: What resources does the community have to improve health? These may include hospitals, clinics, social service agencies, and community organizations.
Health disparities: Are there any population groups in the community that experience higher rates of disease, death, or other health problems?

2. Analyze Primary & Secondary Data

Once the community has been defined, the next step is to collect and analyze data on the community’s health status. This data can be divided into two categories: primary and secondary data.

Primary data is collected directly from the community, such as through surveys, focus groups, or interviews. Secondary data is collected from existing sources, such as government records, vital statistics, and hospital discharge data.

Some examples of primary data sources include:

Community surveys: Community surveys can be used to collect data on a variety of health topics, such as chronic disease prevalence, risk factors, and access to care.
Focus groups: Focus groups can be used to gather in-depth information from community members about their health concerns, experiences, and priorities.
Interviews: Interviews can be used to collect data from specific individuals or groups, such as community leaders, healthcare providers, or people with chronic diseases.

Some examples of secondary data sources include:

Government records: Government records can be used to collect data on a variety of health topics, such as birth and death rates, disease incidence and prevalence, and healthcare utilization.
Vital statistics: Vital statistics are data on births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. This data can be used to track population trends and identify health disparities.
Hospital discharge data: Hospital discharge data can be used to collect information on the types of diseases and conditions that people are being treated for in the hospital.

3. Outline Health Priorities

Once the data has been analyzed, the next step is to identify the community’s health priorities. This can be done by ranking the health needs based on their severity, prevalence, and impact on the community.

When outlining health priorities, it is important to consider the following factors:

Severity: How serious is the health problem?
Prevalence: How common is the health problem in the community?
Impact: How much does the health problem impact the community’s quality of life?
Equity: Are there any population groups in the community that are disproportionately affected by the health problem?

4. Develop a CHNA Report

The CHNA report is a document that summarizes the findings of the CHNA process. It should include the following information:

Definition of the community: The report should define the community that was served by the CHNA.
Analysis of the data: The report should summarize the findings of the primary and secondary data analysis.
Health priorities: The report should identify the community’s health priorities, based on the severity, prevalence, impact, and equity of the health needs.
Recommendations: The report should include recommendations for how to address the community’s health priorities.

5. Adopt & Make the CHNA Report Public

Once the CHNA report has been developed, it should be adopted by an authorized body of the organization that conducted the CHNA. The report should then be made widely available to the public.

Making the CHNA report public is important for several reasons. First, it allows the community to see the results of the CHNA process and to provide input on the recommendations. Second, it helps to raise awareness of the community’s health needs and priorities. Third, it can help to attract partners and resources to address the community’s health needs.


The CHNA process is a systematic way to identify and address the health needs of a community. It is an important tool for improving population health and reducing health disparities.

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