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

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

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At the time of the study, Alycia Santilli, Jeannette R. Ickovics, and Amy Carroll-Scott were with the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT.


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.

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