Conducting a strong needs assessment is the foundation for developing a successful prevention plan. The Prevention Technology Transfer Center (PTTC) Data-Informed Decisions Working Group has designed this review sheet to support addressing data gaps through primary data collection. It provides several methods and select resources as a starting point for prevention team’s planning. These methods can involve varied means of data collection, including oral narratives, written text, photographs, video, and others.

A set of survey questions consisting of open-ended questions about the community’s attitudes, knowledge, beliefs, etc. about an issue (e.g. substance use, HIV/AIDS). A small number of interviews of key respondents using this survey. Scoring of the completed interviews using scales provided for each dimension of community readiness. Calculation of readiness scores on 5 dimensions using the interview scores. Use of these final readiness scores to develop a plan for action.

Relevant, locally specific data provides critical information to any community-based environmental prevention effort. This information forms a Management Information System (MIS) which supports necessary changes in the efforts of local environmental prevention both to made modifications as needed and to determine whether key intermediate variables are moving in desired directions. Environmental Prevention focused on the entire community population seeks to make changes in the entire local system including structure, economics, physical, etc. in order to increase public health and safety.

Before conducting a community assessment, it is important to identify the key individual and organizational stakeholders, and what skills and community resources they bring to the assessment.