Critiquing Indicators of Community Strengths in Community Health Needs Assessments

Abstract

Many scholars and practitioners have heard the call to include asset-based community development (ABCD) approaches in their toolkits to enhance community well-being. This overview article discusses how indicators of community strengths and assets have been included in community health assessments, specifically those focused on exploring community needs. The authors collate a list of common strengths-based indicators (i.e., assets) assessed in the community health and well-being literature. In particular, this overview article addresses how such indicators of community strengths may be limited in their abilities to elucidate meaningful insights when surveying diverse populations of individuals/groups regarding their well-being. Asking, which indicators of community strengths uniquely contribute to individual and community health when sampling diverse populations, this article leverages a recent community health needs assessment in Maricopa County, Arizona, USA, to demonstrate the merits and limits of strengths indicators in needs assessments. Moreover, the article concludes by suggesting that strengths indicators as add-ons to needs assessments do not adequately reflect the myriad possibilities for meaningful inferences that can be derived from ABCD approaches, specifically in regard to social determinants of health, individual health, and community well-being.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The terms community assets and community strengths will be used interchangeably but in regard to the same phenomena; however, various traditions and fields may house differing interpretations of these terms.

  2. 2.

    This article explores survey data collected in cycles two and three of the most recent CCHNA. Cycle one was not included due to revisions made to the survey instrument for cycles two and three. Across all three cycles, there were 52 focus groups completed, 36 of which were conducted in cycles two and three.

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Talmage, C., Mercado, M., Yoder, G. et al. Critiquing Indicators of Community Strengths in Community Health Needs Assessments. Int. Journal of Com. WB (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42413-020-00106-2

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Keywords

  • Community well-being
  • Social indicators
  • Asset based community development
  • Diverse populations
  • Community research