Anticipate Data-Related and Methodological Issues

Data-related issues associated with conducting a needs assessment are well recognized and documented. Such issues must be addressed to enhance the quality of the data collected, thereby improving the accuracy of the community health assessment. Several types of methodological issues are discussed here in the context of conducting a community health assessment rather than within the more typical research framework.

First, when one is attempting to uncover what is occurring, there is a temptation to ask those experiencing the problem to provide information about the problem. As mentioned earlier, the trouble with this approach is that those receiving services may be systematically different from those not receiving services. Also, this approach is unlikely to uncover latent needs, meaning that some needs may not be manifested in an easily recognizable form. In the earlier example near the beginning of the chapter of the community that wanted a swimming pool, a latent need was to have an inequity addressed as manifested in community members’ perceived need for recreational opportunities.

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