Health Needs Assessment

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What is a health needs assessment?
A health needs assessment (HNA) is a systematic method of identifying unmet health and health care needs of a population and making changes to meet those unmet needs. It provides information:
(1) to improve health;
(2) for service planning;
(3) for priority setting and
(4) for policy development.

Health needs assessment is not a health status of population assessment. It aims to improve health and it incorporates the concept of a capacity to benefit from an intervention.  
Defining Needs
An understanding of health needs assessment requires a clear definition of need. Need implies the capacity to benefit from an intervention.

The above diagram can help demonstrate how different notions of need interact.

1. A need is felt and expressed, but not identified as a normative need. Example: Cosmetic surgery procedures where professionals do not agree that there is a medical need. 2. A need is felt, and identified as a normative need, but not expressed. Example: Psychiatric interventions, where a need is felt, professionals would agree that there is a need, but the need is not expressed. 3. A need is felt, expressed and identified as a normative need. Example: Someone experiencing severe chest pain and going to A&E. 4. A need is not felt, but it is expressed and identified as a normative need. Example: Someone attending their GP to obtain a sickness certificate, even though they are over their illness.  

Bradshaw's Classification of Needs

 

Approaches to Health Needs Assessment
There are three approaches to doing a HNA:
Comparative
This compares levels of services between different populations. It should take into account local population characteristics (demography, mortality, morbidity) Corporate
This is based on the demands, wishes and perspectives of interested parties (professional, political and public views). This approach was encouraged by the 1989 reforms with its 'local voices'...
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