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Understanding and Engaging Communities

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Assessing the needs of the target population of outreach and education efforts helps to identify any barriers that exist and how to best create a tool or intervention that fits the population’s needs. When looking to improve an existing program, a needs assessment can be a practical way to understand why a program has not been effective at reaching a population or is not meeting expected results. For example, despite increase in federal and local aid to homeless individuals and families, these services remain underutilized and poorly understood.  Assessing the needs of a community could help explain what is needed to make programs more available and effectual at reaching the target population.1 When providing care to patients, assessing the needs and expectations of the patients and their families is a critical step in providing high quality care.2 This practice has become increasingly data-driven in the last ten years, through large-scale marketing research and segmentation.

Equally important is the process of engaging stakeholders to help increase the depth of knowledge about their needs and to get ongoing feedback throughout the evolution of a project. Engaging different stakeholders allows for inclusion of diverse perspectives, community buy-in, and can lead to improved intervention outcomes within diverse cultures and contexts.3 Being able to effectively engage stakeholders contributes greatly to the success of a program: it is a co-learning process where individuals are empowered to help create programs to benefit their own communities.


Involving the End User

  • Assessing the Barriers to Access for Hispanic Populations

Conducting a Needs Assessment

  • Targeted Efforts to Improve Access to Services through Education

Using Existing Data Sources

  • Bidirectional Reporting of Michigan Cancer Registry Data: A Pilot Project


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