A Guide for Developing and Enhancing Community Oral Health Programs  
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Step 2. Assess Needs and Resources

A. Organize the Assessment

A needs and resources assessment should be thoughtfully planned. It should be guided by the questions that need to be answered to develop, integrate, expand, or enhance a community oral health programs. Such questions could include

  • Who in the community does not have access to oral health care?
  • Why don’t they have access to oral health care?
  • Who is available to provide oral health care?
  • What are the oral health needs of different population groups (defined by age, race, ethnicity)?
  • What are the oral health conditions (e.g., tooth decay, oral cancer) that affect overall oral health status?
  • What is the effect of health insurance coverage on access to oral health care?
  • What oral health education and promotion resources are available?
  • What is the community’s oral health care capacity?

To answer these and other questions and to implement effective programs, it is essential to (1) understand the community, (2) identify existing and potential oral health resources, (3) determine unmet oral health needs, and (4) identify barriers to oral health care.

The first step in organizing the assessment of needs and resources is to get help. The community oral health coalition described in Step 1. Mobilize Community Support, A. Getting Started may be able to provide assistance. The coalition’s effectiveness can be enhanced through the involvement of other community stakeholders (e.g., Head Start staff, school nurses, hospital emergency room staff, interagency council members, or academic institution faculty) who can assist with such activities as identifying existing data, determining assessment questions, guiding the assessment, conducting data collection and analysis, and promoting effective utilization of the findings. Such stakeholders’ early involvement in the assessment process will also encourage their later commitment to the implementation process.

The second step in organizing an assessment is determining what data will be needed to answer questions and how the data can be obtained. It is important to select only data relevant to the assessment questions.
Primary data are data collected directly; such data may be gathered from consumers and oral health professionals through methods such as focus groups, interviews, or surveys. Secondary data are collected from secondary sources (e.g., censuses, surveys).Data can be either qualitative (e.g., obtained from surveys, interviews, or focus groups) or quantitative (e.g., statistical data). A mix of primary, secondary, qualitative, and quantitative data provides the most comprehensive and robust description of oral health needs in the community.

The Assessing Oral Health Needs: ASTDD Seven-Step Model
developed by the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD), provides useful guidance about conducting assessments. The model includes a comprehensive description of each step in the process along with an example of a completed assessment, worksheets, and an extensive bibliography. The model can be adapted to meet a variety of assessment needs.

Healthy People 2010 Oral Health Took Kit
available from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), is another useful resource.

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Table of Contents Appendices AACDP References Home Appendices References Conclusion Step 6 Step 5 Step 4 Step 3 Step 2 Executive Summary Overview Step 1 Acknowledgements