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Why Health Needs Assessment?

Needs assessment is a systematic appraisal of type, depth, and scope of problems as perceived by study targets and/or their advocates (Neuman, 2000; Rossi and Freeman, 1982).  

The purpose of needs assessment in health care is to gather information required to produce change beneficial to the population’s overall health. For this project, multiple perspectives on health needs may lead to re-conceptualizing a problem or a prospective intervention, or may indicate the advisability of continuing or abMandoning current measures.

Recently, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute presented the 2010 County Health Rankings. The rankings are based on a collection of 50 reports that reflect the overall health of counties in every state across the United States. The rankings allow comparison of one county to another in terms of overall health and factors that influence health. The indicators included health outcomes (mortality and morbidity) and health factors (health behaviors, clinical care, social, economic factors and physical environment). The purpose of the project was to get a standard way to measure how healthy a county is and see where it can improve. Those counties having high ranks (e.g. 1 or 2) are estimated to be the “healthiest.”

Coastal Bend counties are not ranked highly.  On most indicators, the Coastal Bend counties are ranked in the middle to bottom range. For comparison purposes, each county in the Coastal Bend was given a “report card” based on the2010 County Health Rankings as detailed in the Appendix A. On the Health Outcomes indicator, Coastal Bend counties’ ranks ranged from 33 (Goliad) to 193 (Jim Wells) out of 221with a mean rank of 108.23. On the Health Factors indicator, Coastal Bend counties’ ranks ranged from 49 (Goliad) to 203 (Brooks) out of 221 with a mean rank of 127.46. These lower ranks suggest that the Coastal Bend counties need to improve health outcomes by addressing all health factors with evidence-based practices and policies.

The 2010 Coastal Bend Health Needs Assessment involved hospitalized patients’ information, the health care and social service providers’ views, and the views of the community at large.  That is, this project used a mixed methods design approach to assess the community’s health needs. 

The purpose of the community telephone survey, health care and social service provider survey, and focus group interviews is to provide residents of the Coastal Bend an opportunity to report their health care utilization and needs.  Although the health system data supplies information about those residents who are hospitalized, it is limited in imparting the extent of the problems residents face or the prevalence of unreported disease conditions.