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From The CriticsReviewer: Sara Jane Gainor, MBA, LSW, NCAC (West Virginia University)
Description: This book, which can be used by students and practitioners, advocates for the use of needs assessment in public health and provides a foundation for the completion of a needs assessment. The book covers the stages of the needs assessment process with an emphasis on the use of teams and the need for leadership to use this tool to support change and strive for improvement.
Purpose: The purpose is to serve as both a textbook for public health students and a handbook for public health practitioners to improve their understanding and skills in the area of needs assessment. This is a needed work as the importance of needs assessment in the development of programs and policy to improve community health is often overlooked and underused. In addition, providers are often directed to perform needs assessment without the benefit of adequate training. The authors have been successful in providing a step-by-step process for completion of a needs assessment from conceptualization to the task through the application of needs-based data to effective public health solutions.
Audience: This book is written for public health students and practitioners. The information is presented in a fashion that is suitable for both audiences. In my opinion, this information is valuable to any health professional who is attempting to determine direction for policy and program change. I wish I had had this book before my recent attempt at a needs assessment on geriatric education.
Features: The book covers the topic of public health needs assessment from conceptualization to impacting policy in clearly delineated stages of development and step-by-step procedures. The chapters are arranged in the sequence of an actual needs assessment and follow a logical progression from idea to outcomes. The authors use three case examples to provide a view of the practical application of the principles presented throughout the entire process. I appreciate the use of charts and lists to make the text easier to read and the use of examples to illustrate important points in the process. I found the chapters on effecting solutions, teams, and leadership refreshing and motivating.
Assessment: I have high praise for this book. It is practical and provides useful information for both the public health student and practitioner on a topic that is important to successful program development and advocacy. I plan to use this book as a guide for my own needs assessments in the future.