Applying Community Organizing Principles to Assess Health Needs in New Haven, Connecticut

Am J Public Health. 2016 May;106(5):841-7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303050. Epub 2016 Mar 17.


The Affordable Care Act added requirements for nonprofit hospitals to conduct community health needs assessments. Guidelines are minimal; however, they require input and representation from the broader community. This call echoes 2 decades of literature on the importance of including community members in all aspects of research design, a tenet of community organizing. We describe a community-engaged research approach to a community health needs assessment in New Haven, Connecticut. We demonstrate that a robust community organizing approach provided unique research benefits: access to residents for data collection, reliable data, leverage for community-driven interventions, and modest improvements in behavioral risk. We make recommendations for future community-engaged efforts and workforce development, which are important for responding to increasing calls for community health needs assessments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Community-Based Participatory Research / organization & administration*
  • Community-Institutional Relations*
  • Connecticut
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status
  • Hospitals, Voluntary / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration*
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Poverty Areas
  • Public Health*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Capital
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Universities