Community Health Assessment and Improvement

What Is a Community Health Assessment?

A community health assessment (sometimes called a CHA), also known as community health needs assessment (sometimes called a CHNA), refers to a state, tribal, local, or territorial health assessment that identifies key health needs and issues in a community. CHAs use such principles as:

  • Collaboration between partners and stakeholders
  • Proactive, broad, and diverse community engagement to improve results
  • A definition of community that is an area to allow for population-wide program or services and measurable results, and includes a focus to address health issues
  • Maximum transparency to improve community engagement and accountability
  • Use of evidence-based interventions
  • Evaluation to inform continuous improvement 
  • Use of the highest quality data from public and private sources and shared with the community

What Is a Community Health Improvement Plan?

A community health improvement plan (or CHIP) is a long-term, plan to address public health problems based on the results of community health assessment activities and the community health improvement process. A plan is typically updated every three to five years.

The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) defines a community health improvement plan as a long-term, systematic effort to address public health problems on the basis of the results of community health assessment activities and the community health improvement process. This plan is used by health and other governmental education and human service agencies, in collaboration with community partners, to set priorities and coordinate and target resources. A community health improvement plan is critical for developing policies and defining actions to target efforts that promote health. It should define the vision for the health of the community through a collaborative process and should address the strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities that exist in the community to improve the health status of that community.

Why Complete an Assessment and Improvement Plan?

A community health assessment gives organizations complete information about the community’s current health status, needs, and issues. This information can help develop a community health improvement plan by showing how and where resources should be used to best meet community needs.

Benefits include

  • Improved organizational and community coordination and collaboration
  • Increased knowledge about public health and the connection between activities
  • Strengthened partnerships within state and local public health systems
  • Identified strengths and weaknesses to address in quality improvement efforts
  • Baselines on performance to use in preparing for accreditation
  • Benchmarks for public health practice improvements

Information on this page is adapted from: https://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/cha/plan.html