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Set Goals and Priorities

Program partners should use the community health needs assessment results to establish priorities likely to have the greatest impact.

A variety of methods can be used to identify goals and take action on community issues. Many approaches include a role for an outside facilitator, such as a community healthcare provider, an individual from the public health department, or a researcher who partners with community members.

Three formal prioritization strategies that can be used to prioritize the issues identified during the community health needs assessment are:

  • Nominal Group Process: A facilitated approach that uses a series of votes to narrow down priorities. Each member of stakeholder group will select their top priorities. Based on the responses, the problems with the most votes are the ones that are selected as major priorities.
  • Hanlon Method/ Basic Priority Rating System: Prioritizes issues by assigning a score (1- 10) in each of the following categories: magnitude (size), importance (urgency, severity, consequence), and potential intervention success.
  • Intervention Mapping: This is a tool designed for program planners who are developing and implementing health promotion programs. There are six steps:
    • Step 1: Logic model of the problem
    • Step 2: Program outcomes and objectives; Logic model of change
    • Step 3: Program design
    • Step 4: Program production
    • Step 5: Program implementation plan
    • Step 6: Evaluation plan
    This tool identifies tasks for the program planner. The steps build upon one another, but it is also possible to move back and forth between the steps. The Intervention Tool has been adapted to address problems such as obesity.

Less formal methods for prioritization include:

  • Roundtable discussions
  • Unstructured focus groups
  • General forums
  • Community meetings/forums

Resources to Learn More

Best Practices for Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Strategy Development: A Review of Scientific Methods, Current Practices, and Future Potential
This report summarizes findings from an expert panel meeting and includes information about community health needs assessments, how to define community, and what constitutes community engagement within the context of improving community health.
Author(s): Barnett, K.
Organization(s): Public Health Institute
Date: 2/2012

Community Health Assessment aNd Group Evaluation (CHANGE) Action Guide
This guide provides instructions to implement the CHANGE tool. The resource is designed to be a compilation of best practices for communities to understand the policies and systems currently in place throughout the community; develop a plan for improve community health; and help prioritize community needs and allocate available resources.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 2010

The Community Tool Box: Chapter 8 - Section 3. Creating Objectives
A guide that defines objectives and provides information on why, when, and how to develop objectives.
Organization(s): University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development

The Community Tool Box: Chapter 3 - Section 23. Developing and Using Criteria and Processes to Set Priorities
This tool provides guidance on developing priorities.
Organization(s): University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development

Setting Targets for Objectives
This document provides tips that focus primarily on setting targets for health outcomes and performance.
Organization(s): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion