Definition of Assessment
The Institute of Medicine
has defined assessment as the systematic collection and analysis of
data including statistics on health status, health needs, and other
public health and health systems issues.
The Essential Services most associated with the Core function of Assessment
- Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems.
This service includes accurate diagnosis of the communitys health status;
identification of threats to health; and determination of health service
- Diagnose and investigate health problems
and health hazards in the community. This service includes
epidemiological investigations of disease outbreaks and patterns of infectious
and chronic diseases and injuries, environmental hazards, and other health
- Inform educate and Empower People about Health Issues. This service
includes providing health information, health education, and health promotion
activities designed to reduce health risk and promote better health;
implementing health communication plans and activities such as media advocacy
and social marketing; making health information and educational resources
accessible to the community; and fostering health education and health
promotion program partnerships with schools, faith communities, worksites,
personal care providers, and others to implement and reinforce health
promotion programs and messages.
is the foundation of public health practice at the local level and
part of a cycle of activities that is designed to meet the mission
of public health.
functions meet the goals and mission of the NPHPSP through the
following public health practices:
Determining the health needs of the
community by establishing a systematic process that periodically
provides pertinent health information.
Investigating adverse health events and
health hazards by conducting timely investigations that identify
the magnitude of health problems, including their duration,
trends, location, and at-risk populations.
Analyzing the determinants of identified
health problems to determine the reasons why certain populations
are at risk for adverse health outcomes.
Assessment is a significant phase of the
MAPP process. The four MAPP Assessments form the core of the
MAPP process. Only intense community attention to these
activities can assure appropriate community ownership of the
entire MAPP effort. Results of the assessments will drive the
identification of strategic issues and activities of the local
public health system and the community for years to come.
Therefore, although they may appear to be time-consuming, it is
important to take great care in implementing the assessments and
ensuring that they are done effectively and with broad
The Four MAPP
What are the
four MAPP Assessments?
The four MAPP Assessments the third phase of MAPP and the issues they
address are described below:
The Community Themes and Strengths Assessment provides a deep understanding
of the issues residents feel are important by answering the questions,
"What is important to our community?" "How is quality of life perceived
in our community?" and "What assets do we have that can be used to
improve community health?"
Public Health System Assessment focuses on all of the organizations and
entities that contribute to the public's health. The Local Public Health
System Assessment answers the
questions, "What are the components, activities, competencies and
capacities of our local public health system?" and "How are the
Essential Services being provided to our community?"
The Community Health Status Assessment identifies priority community health
and quality of life issues. Questions answered here include, "How
healthy are our residents?" and "What does the health status of our
community look like?"
- The Forces
of Change Assessment focuses on identifying forces such as legislation,
technology and other impending changes that affect the context in which
the community and its public health system operate. This answers the
questions, "What is occurring or might occur that affects the health of
our community or the local public health system?" and "What specific
threats or opportunities are generated by these occurrences?"
Why are the
Four MAPP Assessments Important?
While each of the assessments alone will yield important information for
improving community health, the value of the four MAPP Assessments is
multiplied by considering the findings of each individual assessment
together. Disregarding any of the four assessments will leave participants
with an incomplete understanding of the factors that affect the local
public health system and, ultimately, the health of the community.
the Four MAPP Assessments Have
insight on the gaps between current circumstances and a community's
vision (as determined in the Visioning phase);
information to use in identifying the strategic issues that must be
addressed to achieve the vision;
Serving as the source of
information from which the strategic issues, strategies, and goals are
How to Implement the Four MAPP Assessments
Guidance for implementing the four MAPP Assessments is included in each of
the sections. Below are some tips for implementing them in a coordinated
and effective fashion.
- Plan how the
assessments will be implemented There is no prescribed order in which
to carry out the four assessments. When designing the planning process,
the MAPP Committee should recognize that some assessments may be
conducted concurrently or may overlap. In determining the order,
however, the MAPP Committee should consider how the findings of one
assessment Community Themes and Strengths, for example might be used
to inform another assessment. It may be beneficial to conduct certain
activities of one assessment before beginning another. In addition, the
findings of one assessment may suggest that further work is needed on
another. The example timeline/work plan included in the Organize for
Success / Partnership Development section illustrates how the pieces of
the four assessments can be done concurrently.
subcommittees for each assessment The MAPP Committee should determine
who will be responsible for each assessment. The guidance for each
assessment with the exception of Forces of Change recommends that a
subcommittee oversee each process. This ensures that the assessments
move forward efficiently. Membership on the subcommittees should reflect
the skills and capacities most needed for each assessment. Overlapping
membership, where possible, may also facilitate the sharing of
information and coordination of activities.
linkages among assessments Although each assessment is conducted
for a specific purpose, there are many connections that should be made
to promote broader involvement and facilitate linkages. For example, the
Community Themes and Strengths Assessment discussions may be very useful
in identifying data indicators for the Community Health Status Assessment, as well as helping to identify
potential threats and opportunities for the Forces of Change Assessment.
successes As each assessment is being conducted, identify and
recognize achievements. The assessments can be very challenging, and
recognition of the hard work of the entire community will go a long way
toward strengthening morale and creating excitement for the process.
Public recognition can also help to bolster interest among the wider
The four MAPP Assessments form the core of
the MAPP process. Only intense community attention to these activities can
assure appropriate community ownership of the entire MAPP effort. Results
of the assessments will drive the identification of strategic issues and
activities of the local public health system and the community for years
to come. Therefore, although they may appear to be time-consuming, it is
important to take great care in implementing the assessments and ensuring
that they are done effectively and with broad participation.