Data Synthesis in Community Health Assessment: Practical Examples From the Field

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State and local health departments (LHDs) are increasingly conducting community health assessments, using models such as Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. Within the peer-reviewed literature, relevant Web sites, and textbooks on health planning, there is limited practical guidance for bridging data collection and prioritization. The purpose of this article was to provide examples of how LHDs have bridged these steps through “data synthesis.” We provide examples from 3 LHDs that have extensive experience with the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships model. The LHDs provide a detailed synopsis of data synthesis activities, including the setting, participants, processes, and outcomes. Commonalities between the LHDs' processes emerged, including daylong (or more) retreats, multiple nominal group-like techniques, and iterative approaches to reduce the number of strategic issues. These processes provide examples of data synthesis and are relevant to current practice, given the national voluntary accreditation process and the new nonprofit hospital requirements to conduct community health assessments.

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