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J Community Health. 1980 Winter;6(2):79-91.

Balancing statistical data and clinician judgments in the diagnosis of patient educational needs.


Survey content is necessarily limited by the investigators' foresight and by prior research on their subject of inquiry. Clinical data must supplement statistical data whenever the prior research is insufficient to delineate exactly what problems to expect. The differing perspectives on needs of patients sometimes set up competing demands. This calls for strategies based on a programmatic or population perspective that identifies the commonalities in patients educational needs from the statistical profiles, while at the same time allowing for the development of interventions that provide for as much tailoring of the educational experience based on clinical judgments as possible. By combining the community health education perspective with a clinical perspective, we were able to design interventions that responded to the educational needs of a population of low-income, black hypertensive patients. A needs assessment process that combined these perspectives began with a historical and community assessment of the problem in its most general terms. A second phase focused on the most important behavioral and organizational points for intervention. A third phase required formal assessment of predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing factors that may be determining the priority behaviors of health care organizational problems. Finally, clinical and administrative judgment sharpened and supplemented the educational interventions that were suggested by statistical data from formal surveys. Behavioral sciences theory was applied usefully in all these phases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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