The process of community diagnosis involves four stages:
2. Data collection and analysis
In order to initiate a community diagnosis project, a dedicated committee or working group should be set up to manage and coordinate the project. The committee should involve relevant parties such as government departments, health professionals and non-governmental organisations.
At an early stage, it is important to identify the available budget and resources to determine the scope of the diagnosis.
Some of the common areas to be studied may include health status, lifestyles, living conditions, socioeconomic conditions, physical and social infrastructure, inequalities, as well as public health services and policies. Once the scope is defined, a working schedule to conduct the community diagnosis, production and dissemination of report should be set.
**2. Data collection and analysis**
The project should collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Moreover, Population Census and statistical data e.g. population size, sex and age structure, medical services, public health, social services, education, housing, public security and transportation, etc. can provide background of the district. As for the community data, it can be collected by conducting surveys through self-administered questionnaires, face to face interviews, focus groups and telephone interviews.
In order to ensure reliability of the findings, an experienced organisation such as an academic institute can be employed for conducting the study.
The sampling method should be carefully designed and the sample size should be large enough to provide sufficient data to draw reliable conclusions. Therefore, study results derived can truly review the local community.
Collected data can then be analysed and interpreted by experts. Here are some practical tips on data analysis and presentation:
- statistical information is best presented as rates or ratios for comparison
- trends and projections are useful for monitoring changes over a time period for
- local district data can be compared with other districts or the whole population
- graphical presentation is preferred for easy understanding
Diagnosis of the community is reached from conclusions drawn from the data analysis. It should preferably comprise three areas:
- health status of the community
- determinants of health in the community
- potential for healthy city development
The production of the community diagnosis report is not an end in itself, efforts should be put into communication to ensure that targeted actions are taken. The target audience for the community diagnosis includes policy-makers, health professionals and the general public in the community.
The report can be disseminated through the following channels:
- presentations at meetings of the health boards and committees, or forums
organised for voluntary organisations, local community groups and the general
- press release
- thematic events (such as health fairs and other health promotion programmes)