Community Assessment and Analysis

Course Description:
This is an advanced course in the theory and practice of community assessment in public health. Community assessment focuses on measuring a community’s health status and its determinants. It also focuses on assessing a community’s capacity to improve health. To be able to conduct assessment, students must have a working understanding of the determinants of health, as well as the “anatomy and physiology” of community. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be introduced. Applying what is learned in this course yield the information needed for community based planning and evaluation, the topics of the next course in the series, CPH 542.

Prerequisites: CPH/EPI 573 recommended.

Instructor Information

Mark A. Veazie, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., R.E.H.S.
Course Director and Assistant Professor
Public Health University of Arizona College of Public Health
P.O. Box 210228 1145 N. Campbell, Tucson, Arizona, 85721 0228
520-318-7270, extension 18
pager: 489-1210

Wayne Peate, M.D., M.P.H.
Community Lab Director Associate Professor
Public Health University of Arizona College of Public Health
520-882-5852, extension 13.

Course Objectives

1. Define community based public health practice and identify the role of community assessment within this framework.
2. Identify and evaluate measures of the health and function of populations, organizations, partnerships, systems, and communities.
3. Evaluate the relevance and utility of community assessment data to the objectives of community health improvement.
4. Compare the underlying assumptions, objectives, and methods of various community assessment frameworks, such as public health surveillance, comprehensive needs assessments, and community assets mapping.
5. Critically analyze how current theories relating culture, community, and organization to health inform the approach and methods to be used for community assessment in different settings.
6. In collaboration with community partners, conduct a community assessment or develop a community assessment plan, and communicate the results to community partners.

Readings and Textbooks

Teutsch S.M. and Churchill R.E. (2000) Principles and Practice of Public Health Surveillance (Second Edition). Oxford University Press, New York REQUIRED

Patton(2001) Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods (Third Edition). Sage Publications, Ind., Thousand Oaks, California. REQUIRED

The Milagro Beanfield War, the movie


This learning experience is designed to promote critical thinking, collaborative learning, and communication skills. It includes the following strategies: small group discussions of literature or class presentations; worksheets and other short assignments to promote critical thinking; class exercises; presentations that build continuity and context; a take home midterm requiring students to analyze and communicate community health improvement options; and small group work with community based organizations; and student portfolios to document and promote learning.


Group Community Assessment Project
Summary of Credits
Time Sheet

Assignments Kept in Portfolio
Maintenance of Portfolio
Homework Assignments
Midterm Paper
Midterm Paper Presentation
Reflective Essays

Class Participation
Participation in Discussion

Schedule of Classes and Topics

January 27 – Introductions by Veazie
What is Assessment?
Core Function of Public Health
Assessment vs. Evaluation
Focusing an Assessment
Course Requirements, Prerequisite Knowledge & Optional Tutorial
Determinants of Health An exercise.
Introduction to Community Partners

February 3 – Public Health Surveillance, Surveys and Information Systems – Veazie
Specific Challenges: Small Areas, Trends and Rate Adjustment.
Demographic Data.
Conflicting Paradigms? Positivism, Constructivism and Realism

February 10 – The class re visits the town of Milagro – Veazie
What is Community?
Community Capacity I

February 17 – Designing a collaborative community health assessment on the U.S. Mexico – Veazie
Border role play
Values Inquiry in Assessment Design.
Understanding community as a complex, open system.

February 24 – Practical Data Management 101 Can you concatenate? – Veazie
Epi Info Demonstration with Group Homework Assignment

March 3 – Presentation of Group Assignments in Epi Info & Survey Design – McGorray & Rogan
Mapping Health and Demographic Information: A Demonstration.

March 10 – Qualitative Methods 1: Eisenburg
Why use qualitative methods?
Strategies: Theory development strategy, e.g., demography, grounded theory.
Data gathering methods: in depth interview, key informant interview, group interview methods.
Community Capacity 11: Assessing Needs for the Development of Meister Leadership and Human Resources in communities, agencies and associations.

March 17 – Spring Break

March 24 – Community Capacity III: Network Analysis and Partnership Assessment – Provan
Community Assessment Projects: Co Consulting.

March 31 – Presentation of Assessment Options to Ficticia Board of Health: A Students comparison of MAPP, PHCRT, Healthy People 2010 Toolkit, and CHIP.

April 7 – Beyond Morbidity and Mortality: Health Related Quality of Life – Veazie
Qualitative Methods 11: Analysis of Qualitative Data using NVIVO – Stephan Hunter

April 14 – Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance – Veazie
Environmental Hazard, Exposure, Effect and Risk PACE EH – Peate

April 21 – Economics and Measurement of Disparities – Veazie
Surveillance of Social Indicators Project A Critical Appraisal – Harris

April 28 – Health Services: access, utilization and need

May 5 – Surveillance of Hunger: An Application of Principles – Taren
Course Wrap Up – Veazie

May 14 – Oral Final Exams: Presentation of Group Projects. 2-4 PM – All

Reflective Student Portfolio

The use of student portfolios in higher education is on the rise. A portfolio is a record of student work and a tool to promote learning and application. The Community Health Practice faculty has discussed the use of a portfolio for students to document their progress in meeting public health competencies and personal learning objectives. In the future, a portfolio can be carried from course to course and project to project. We will use a portfolio for CPH541 to promote student learning and to document progress on public health competencies and personal learning objectives.

In a portfolio, students will:

  • Keep all of their assignments, papers and group work in the portfolio.
  • Maintain reflective essays on how this course is improving their knowledge and skills in basic public health competencies as well as their own learning objectives.
  • Turn in their portfolios for grading and feedback at least three times during the semester as requested.
  • Keep an electronic copy of all documents in the portfolio as a backup.
  • Maintain the portfolio in accordance with a standard table of contents.

The Contents of the Portfolio will be:

  • Title Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Personal Learning Objectives
  • Homework Assignments (order by due date).
  • Midterm Paper
  • Policy Briefing Memo
  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Reflective Essays
  • First Essay on Competencies
  • First Essay on Personal Learning Objectives
  • Last Essay on Competencies
  • Last Essay on Personal Learning Objectives
  • Community Assessment Project:
    • Report
    • Slides
    • Personal Activity Tracking Sheet (Time Sheet)
  • Notes (optional)
  • Course Handouts (optional)
  • Bibliography (optional)
  • Webliography (optional)

Community Assessment Project

Community Lab Director Wayne Peate, N4D, MPH


Teams of students will engage in service learning with one community based agency for both CPH541 (Community Assessment and Analysis) and the next course in the series, CPH542 (Community Health Program Planning and Evaluation). In CPH541, they will be asked to collaborate with the community either to design an assessment or conduct a portion of an assessment. In CPH542, students will follow through with the agency to translate the assessment into action. They will be asked to collaborate with the agency to write a grant, develop a program plan, or evaluate a portion of an existing program.


The student team along with a faculty member will be meet with the community representatives and negotiate a realistic project. Students will then collaborate with each other and the community to complete the project. This will entail a minimum of 4 meetings with community colleagues. Students usually find that additional field trips are necessary, depending on what is being done. At the end of the semester, student will summarize their methods, results and findings in a brief written report and present these findings as their final exam at the scheduled time. Community members will be invited to attend the presentation. They may also request a presentation in the community.

The class will negotiate the criteria for evaluating the project. The instructor, a community representative, and the students will then rate the project on three to five criteria, probably using a Likert scale. The instructor response, the combined student response, and the community member’s response will be averaged to obtain a project grade.

The individual’s grade will be calculated as the project grade weighted by the individual’s contribution to the project. The individual’s contribution to the project will be rated by the two instructors based on the following information:

1) A timesheet kept by students documenting their activities and time spent in the project. This timesheet is to be included in the student portfolio.

2) The Project’s summary of credits. As a group, the team will include in their report a summary of credits briefly describing the contribution of each student to the project. The students will not be put in the position of evaluating each other’s performance, merely agreeing on who did what. This is similar to an acknowledgements statement in a book.

You can score higher or lower on the community assessment project by working a percentage of hours more or less than the median number of hours worked on the project among students in your team (see t). However, these hours are weighted by the extent to which the average hour listed is rated as having made a meaningful contribution to the project (see q). If you work the same number of hours as the median, you can also score higher or lower based on the extent to which the average hour listed is rated as having made a meaningful contribution to the project. You cannot gain or lose more than 30 points out of 100 with this adjustment to the project score.