Community diagnosis refers to the process of collecting quantitative and qualitative data about a community to understand the health status of individuals, families, and the community as a whole.
It involves identifying and quantifying health problems, assessing their causes and correlates, and determining the population groups at risk or in need of healthcare interventions.
Community diagnosis can be described as a comprehensive assessment of the community’s health in relation to its social, political, economic, physical, and biological environment.
The collected information should cover a range of health-related factors such as sanitation, nutrition, immunization, and vital statistics including birth and death rates. Additionally, community diagnosis may include other development issues related to the community’s well-being.
The process of community diagnosis involves gathering data from various sources within the community, including household heads, health units, local authorities, women’s clubs, youth clubs, and extension workers, among others. This data collection aims to provide a holistic understanding of the community’s health needs, challenges, and resources. This follows Community Assessment.
Objectives of Community Diagnosis
Analyze health status: Community diagnosis aims to assess the health status of individuals, families, and the community as a whole. It involves collecting and analyzing data on mortality rates, morbidity rates, prevalence of diseases, and other health indicators to understand the current health situation.
Evaluate health resources, services, and systems of care: Community diagnosis involves assessing the availability, accessibility, and quality of health resources, services, and systems within the community. This evaluation helps identify gaps, strengths, and weaknesses in the healthcare infrastructure.
Assess attitudes toward community health services and issues: Community diagnosis seeks to understand the attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of community members regarding health services and health-related issues. This assessment helps in designing interventions that are culturally appropriate and acceptable to the community.
Identify priorities, establish goals, and determine courses of action to improve health status: Based on the analysis of health status, resources, and community attitudes, community diagnosis helps in identifying priority areas for intervention. It helps establish goals and develop strategies to improve the health status of the community.
Establish an epidemiologic baseline for measuring improvement over time: Community diagnosis provides a baseline for measuring changes and improvements in health status over time. It helps in monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions and programs implemented to address the identified health issues.
Goals of Community Diagnosis
Analyze the health status of the community: Community diagnosis aims to assess the overall health status of the community, including the prevalence of diseases, health behaviors, and the determinants of health. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the health issues and needs of the community.
Evaluate the health resources and systems of care within the community: Community diagnosis involves evaluating the availability, accessibility, and quality of health resources, services, and systems in the community. This assessment helps identify strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in healthcare delivery.
Assess attitudes towards community health services: Community diagnosis aims to understand the attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of community members towards health services and healthcare providers. This assessment helps in identifying barriers to accessing and utilizing healthcare and enables the development of strategies to address them.
Increase levels of awareness about prevailing negative factors: Community diagnosis helps raise awareness about the existing negative factors that contribute to poor health outcomes in the community. By identifying and highlighting these factors, community members, healthcare providers, and policymakers can work together to address them and promote positive health behaviors.
Goals: The goals mentioned (analyzing the health status, evaluating health resources and systems of care, assessing attitudes towards community health services, increasing levels of awareness about negative factors) represent the overall intentions and purposes of community diagnosis. They provide a broad framework for the process and guide the overall direction of the assessment.
Objectives: The objectives listed (analyzing health status, evaluating health resources, assessing attitudes towards community health services, increasing levels of awareness about prevailing negative factors) are more specific and measurable targets that contribute to achieving the broader goals. They outline the specific actions and outcomes that need to be accomplished during the community diagnosis process.
In summary, goals represent the broader purpose or direction, while objectives are specific, measurable targets that contribute to achieving the goals.
Content of community diagnosis (sample)
- Demographic Information: Who lives in the community?
- Number of households/families
- Number of adults, including male-to-female ratio
- Number of children, including male-to-female ratio
- Geographical Location: Where do they live?
- Identification of the specific locations of houses within the community
- Socioeconomic Status: How do they live?
- Source of income for community members
- Source of food supply
- Income distribution within the community
- Community Problems: What problems do they have?
- Identification of general problems faced by the community, including security concerns
- Health-related problems prevalent in the community
- Community Resources: What resources do they have?
- Industrial or agricultural facilities available within the community
- Schools and educational institutions
- Markets and business centers
- Health facilities, including clinics or hospitals
- Water supply sources and quality
- Sanitary facilities, such as toilets and waste management systems
- Road network and transportation infrastructure
- Access to information sources like radio or newspapers
Process / stages of carrying out community diagnosis
- Data collection and Analysis
- Define or identify the area of study from which the data is to be gathered for community diagnosis (i.e. location, population size, sex and age structure, climate condition, ethnicity, economic status, education, standards of living, occupation, religion, infrastructure, e.t.c).
- At an early stage, it is important to identify the available resources needed to determine the scope of the diagnosis.
- In order to initiate a community Diagnosis, a dedicated committee or working group should be networked to manage and coordinate the project.
- The committee should involve relevant parties such as government departments, health professionals and non – governmental –organizations
- 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, medical services, public health issues, education, housing, public security and transportation
- Once the scope is defined, a working schedule to conduct the community diagnosis, production and dissemination of reports should be set.
Data collection with analysis
- Data collection refers to gathering data about the health problems present in the community. 2. Design the relevant tools to be used in data collection.
- Prepare for data collection using selected methods e.g. these can be the questionnaires, interview guide or observational checklists, focus group discussions.
- The following sources of data can be used:
- Discussion with community members about their main health problems
- Reviewing records of the health services utilized by the community
- Undertaking a community surveyor a small-scale project
- Observing the risks to health present in the community.
- Data analysis: Data analysis refers to categorizing the whole of the data you collected into groups so as to make meaning out of it. For instance you can assess the magnitude of a disease by calculating its prevalence and its incidence from the numbers of cases you recorded and the number of people in the population in your community.
- Collected data can then be analyzed 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 future planning
- 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 community 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 organized for voluntary organizations, local community groups and the general public through press releases or meetings.
- It is important to realize that Community Diagnosis is not a one-off project, but is part of a dynamic process leading to health promotion in the community.
- Target audience for report can be determined to;-
- Policy makers
- press release
- Health professionals
- Meetings of health boards
- General public committees
- Initiation Phase:
- Define the area of study and gather relevant information about the community.
- Identify available resources and establish a dedicated committee or working group to coordinate the project.
- Involve relevant stakeholders such as government departments, health professionals, and non-governmental organizations.
- Determine the scope of the diagnosis, including the areas to be studied.
- Data Collection and Analysis:
- Design and prepare the tools for data collection, such as questionnaires, interview guides, or observational checklists.
- Collect data using selected methods, including discussions with community members, reviewing health service records, conducting surveys, or observing health risks.
- Analyze the collected data by categorizing and interpreting it to identify patterns, trends, and key findings.
- Present the analyzed data using statistical measures, trends, projections, and graphical representations.
- Draw conclusions from the data analysis to diagnose the community’s health status, determinants of health, and potential for healthy community development.
- Provide a comprehensive assessment of the community’s health needs, strengths, weaknesses, and priorities.
- Produce a community diagnosis report that communicates the findings and recommendations.
- Target the report to policy-makers, health professionals, and the general public in the community.
- Disseminate the report through presentations, meetings, press releases, and other appropriate channels.
- Engage stakeholders in discussions and actions based on the community diagnosis to promote health and address identified issues.
Prioritizing health problems
- As a health professional working in a community affected by several health problems at the same time it is difficult to address all the problems at once. Therefore, you should give priority to the most important ones first.
- Health problems which have a high magnitude and severity, which can be easily solved, and are major concerns of the community and the government, are given the highest priority.
- After prioritizing which disease (or diseases) you will give most urgent attention to, the next step is to develop an action plan.
Action plan (work plan)
- An action plan sets out the ways in which you will implement the interventions required to prevent and control the disease or solve a problem.
- It contains a list of the objectives and corresponding interventions to be carried out, and specifies the responsible bodies who will be involved.
- It also identifies the time and any equipment needed to implement the interventions.
Summary of Steps to consider when carrying out community diagnosis
- Plan for the resources required for the activity
- Decide the scope I areas to be studied
- Design the relevant tools to be used in data collection
- Conduct surveys to obtain quantitative and qualitative data
- Collect and analyze the data
- Form a community diagnosis and disseminate the report via different channels
- Establish and prioritize areas for improvement
- Set work plans for implementation and indicators for evaluation
Importance of community diagnosis
- Helps to identify community needs and problems
- It provides data as a prerequisite for planning, implementation and evaluation of successful community based health and development programmes.
- Helps to decide strategies for community involvement
- It gives an opportunity for the community to learn about itself i.e. the community becomes conscious of its existing problems and finds solutions.
- Helps to match project organizations and services to community needs.
- Helps to understand about the social, cultural and environmental characteristics of the community.
- To create opportunities for Intersectoral collaboration and media involvement
- It helps to obtain up-to-date information about the community quality is necessary for effective planning, Monitoring with evaluation for development.
- It helps to improve community level of awareness about the prevailing factors that affect their health and general development.
- It helps the community to prioritize their problems before implementation.
- It fosters community participation.
Roles of a Nurse in Community Diagnosis
Data Collection: Nurses play a crucial role in collecting relevant data about the health status of individuals, families, and communities. They gather information through interviews, surveys, and observations.
Assessment: Nurses assess the health needs and concerns of individuals and the community as a whole. They identify risk factors, social determinants of health, and existing health problems through comprehensive assessments.
Collaboration: Nurses collaborate with other healthcare professionals, community leaders, and stakeholders to gather diverse perspectives and insights. They work as part of a multidisciplinary team to ensure comprehensive data collection and analysis.
Health Education: Nurses educate community members about the importance of community diagnosis, encourage participation, and explain the relevance of data collection in improving health outcomes.
Data Analysis: Nurses contribute to the analysis of collected data by interpreting and summarizing the findings. They assist in identifying patterns, trends, and health priorities to inform the community diagnosis process.
Planning and Implementation: Nurses collaborate with the healthcare team to develop action plans based on the community diagnosis. They help in setting goals, defining interventions, and implementing strategies to address identified health needs.
Advocacy: Nurses advocate for the community’s health needs and concerns based on the findings of the community diagnosis. They raise awareness about key issues and work towards ensuring equitable access to healthcare services.
Evaluation: Nurses participate in the evaluation of interventions and programs implemented based on the community diagnosis. They assess the effectiveness of the strategies and make recommendations for improvement.
Health Promotion: Nurses engage in health promotion activities within the community, empowering individuals and groups to make informed decisions about their health. They support community members in adopting healthy behaviors and lifestyles.
Collaborative Partnerships: Nurses collaborate with community organizations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations to leverage resources and strengthen community health initiatives based on the findings of the community diagnosis.