Needs Assessment for Reducing Infant Mortality in Baltimore City: The Healthy Start Program

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Needs assessments are essential for policy formulation and the appropriate design of intervention programs. Recent nationwide data show that among large metropolitan areas of the United States, Baltimore has one of the highest infant mortality rates and ranks in the worst top 10 for blacks and the top 5 for whites for most indicators of poor pregnancy outcome. In this paper, we present the methods and results of a needs assessment that used multiple sources of routinely collected data and was conducted for the purpose of identifying intervention factors contributing to infant mortality in Baltimore City. This needs assessment was used by the Baltimore City Health Department to successfully secure funding for the federal Healthy Start Infant Mortality Prevention Initiative. We present the results of the analyses, along with some of the proposed interventions that resulted from the needs assessment. We also discuss the limitations of this type of needs assessment as well as suggestions for future needs assessments for the design of interventions to improve perinatal health.

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