community health planning, needs assessment, public health administration



  1. Zahner, Susan J. DrPH, RN
  2. Kaiser, Betty MS, RN
  3. Kapelke-Dale, Jessica BA, BS(Hons)


Purpose: Community assessment is a core function of public health. National and state policies encourage local health departments (LHDs) to engage local partners in conducting community assessments. This study examined the prevalence, characteristics, and effectiveness of community assessment partnerships between LHDs and other organizations.


Methods: LHDs in Wisconsin completed a 2-stage, cross-sectional survey. A subset analysis of community assessment partnerships was conducted using descriptive, bivariate, and multivariate statistical methods.


Results: Ninety percent of LHDs reported a partnership focused on community assessment (n = 69). Sixty-six percent of community assessment partnerships had existed for three or more years, and all of these had implemented plans (n = 43). Community assessment partnerships were more likely than partnerships focused on other issues to have formed because of a mandate, to include many partners, and to receive some forms of financial support from the LHD. Partnerships focused on community assessment were no more likely to be effective than other types of partnerships.


Conclusions: LHDs and community partners realize mutual benefits from collaborating on community assessment. Successful community assessment partnerships can be supported by building competencies in the public health workforce and sustaining partnerships for substantial periods of time.