Objective: To develop a survey instrument that could be used both to guide and evaluate community health improvement efforts.
Data sources/study setting: A randomized telephone survey was administered to a sample of about 250 residents in two communities in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania in the fall of 1997.
Methods: The survey instrument was developed by health professionals representing diverse health care organizations. This group worked collaboratively over a period of two years to (1) select a conceptual model of health as a foundation for the survey; (2) review relevant literature to identify indicators that adequately measured the health constructs within the chosen model; (3) develop new indicators where important constructs lacked specific measures; and (4) pilot test the final survey to assess the reliability and validity of the instrument.
Principal findings: The Evans and Stoddart Field Model of the Determinants of Health and Well-Being was chosen as the conceptual model within which to develop the survey. The Field Model depicts nine domains important to the origins and production of health and provides a comprehensive framework from which to launch community health improvement efforts. From more than 500 potential indicators we identified 118 survey questions that reflected the multiple determinants of health as conceptualized by this model. Sources from which indicators were selected include the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, the National Health Interview Survey, the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Survey, and the SF-12 Summary Scales. The work group developed 27 new survey questions for constructs for which we could not locate adequate indicators. Twenty-five questions in the final instrument can be compared to nationally published norms or benchmarks. The final instrument was pilot tested in 1997 in two communities. Administration time averaged 22 minutes with a response rate of 66 percent. Reliability of new survey questions was adequate. Face validity was supported by previous findings from qualitative and quantitative studies.
Conclusions: We developed, pilot tested, and validated a survey instrument designed to provide more comprehensive and timely data to communities for community health assessments. This instrument allows communities to identify and measure critical domains of health that have previously not been captured in a single instrument.