Exploring the Relationship Between Community Program Location and Community Needs

J Am Board Fam Med. 2022 Jan-Feb;35(1):55-72. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2022.01.210310.


Introduction: Health behaviors, mental health, and social needs impact health, but addressing these needs is difficult. Clinicians can partner with community programs to provide patients support. The relationship between program location and community need is uncertain.

Methods: We identified and geolocated community programs in Richmond, Virginia, that aid with 9 domains of needs (mental health, smoking, unhealthy alcohol use, nutrition, physical activity, transportation, financial, housing, food insecurity). For each census tract, we identified needs from public data sources. We used 2 methods to compare program location and need: (1) hotspot analysis and (2) a negative binomial regression model.

Results: We identified 280 community programs that provide aid for the 9 domains. Programs most often provided financial assistance (n = 121) and housing support (n = 73). The regression analysis showed no relationship between the number of community programs and the level of need in census tracts, with 2 exceptions. There was a positive association between financial programs and financial need and a negative association between housing programs and housing need.

Conclusions: Community programs are generally not colocated with need. This poses a barrier for people who need help addressing these domains.

Keywords: Family Medicine; Food Insecurity; Geospatial Analysis; Health Behavior; Housing; Mental Health; Social Determinants of Health.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Smoking
  • Transportation*
  • Virginia