A health needs assessment HNA, is a public health tool which underpins a large proportion of government policy. It offers ideal opportunities to engage with an identified population, and accumulate evidence from them and about them. This provides an evidence base from which resources can be prioritised and delivered. Through partnership working with key stakeholders, increasing the capacity to promote and protect the health needs of a population, and reducing the level of unmet need and health inequalities. (Cavanagh and Chadwick 2005)
An HNA is designed to lead to the implementation of a public health strategy. (Cavanagh and Chadwick, 2005) The assessment is supported by local and national government priorities which encourage local authorities, groups and individuals to establish which services are required to meet these needs, therefore implementing strategies that are needed by communities to prevent ill-health. Through Healthy Lives Healthy People (2010) the government promotes the move of power to local government and communities, enabling them to tackle local problems and increase their health and well-being.
Epidemiology is the study of health and disease in populations (Saracci 2010). It enables a strategic insight into the prevalence and indecencies of particular conditions or needs, and promotes the understanding of why they concentrate in particular populations. (PCT Network 2008).
'Need' implies the capacity to benefit from an intervention. Asadi-Lari et al. (2003) acknowledged that this capacity to benefit can be influenced by several factors including epidemiological aspects such as incidence and prevalence of disease and the effectiveness of interventions.
An HNA is an initial step in planning a health