Community health needs assessment for health service planning: realising consumer participation in the health service setting

Sue Green, Lynne Parkinson, Billie Bonevski, Robyn Considine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Issue addressed The aims of this paper are to describe a four-step process for community health needs assessment used in one community, to discuss satisfaction with the community consultation processes, and to examine the cost and usefulness of the process for guiding health service planning . Methods The community health needs assessment included: collation of local health statistical data; community consultation using focus groups; community survey; and priority setting using a nominal group approach. This process was accompanied by an intensive communication strategy. Results Health statistics data were collected for people living in Tomaree Planning District, NSW; four focus groups were held with 59 key community stakeholders; 391 community members participated in a community survey (78% consent rate); and 10 community representatives participated in a priority-setting nominal group session. The types of service needs identified varied for each step, as did community satisfaction with each consultation process. Conclusions Community consultations were an acceptable method for directly engaging community members in the health service planning process. The list of health service priorities generated through this process was used to inform the future health service planning process for the Tomaree community. So what? Despite continued rhetoric, community participation in the health service planning process is still not standard practice. This study presents an example of how community participation in health service planning can be done feasibly, at reasonable cost and in an acceptable and useful way.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-150
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note


  • Community
  • needs assessment
  • health services
  • health planning


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