Background: Community health services in China have developed over the last few decades. In order to use limited health resources more effectively, we conducted a community health needs assessment. This aimed to provide an understanding of the community's health problems and the range of potential factors affecting risk behaviours for the priority health problems.
Methods: We used the precede-proceed model for the needs assessment. Triangulation of data, methods and researchers were employed in data collection.
Results: Main findings include: cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) were identified as the priority health problems in the study communities; risk factors associated with CVDs included smoking, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating behaviours, particularly amongst male residents with low education level; factors negatively affecting behaviours were classified into predisposing factors (limited knowledge, beliefs and lack of perceived needs), enabling factors (limited access to health promotion activities, unawareness of health promotion, lack of work-site and school health promotion, absence of health promotion related policy) and reinforcing factors (culture). Policies and organization were not perfect; there were limited staff skilled in providing health promotion in the community.
Conclusion: CVDs were identified by the communities as priority health problems. Future health programs should focus on smoking, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating behaviours. Behaviour change strategies should take predisposing factors, enabling factors and reinforcing factors into consideration. Policies, organization and human resource need strengthening.