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

B. Conduct the Assessment (continued)

4. Analyze Data

After collecting data, it must be described, analyzed, and interpreted, and a judgment must be made about the meaning of the findings in the context of the assessment. The goal of data analysis here is not to look for statistical significance but rather for associations and differences in access to and utilization of oral health services and in the oral health status of various population groups. Therefore, the focus of the data analysis is on an examination of frequencies and the cross-tabulation of relationships among specific areas important to answering needs-assessment questions. For example, the data may reveal that preschool-age children from a particular census track have particularly high rates of early childhood caries.

Databases can be constructed to support analysis using, for example, Statistical Analysis Software for quantitative data analysis and Microsoft Access for qualitative data analysis. Qualitative data can be reviewed for patterns or themes and then categorized into recurring topics that seem relevant to assessment questions. Qualitative records should carry identifiers that allow them to be linked to quantitative data. This permits the direct integration of quantitative and qualitative data.

The quantitative and qualitative information gathered is analyzed together in the context of the needs-assessment questions to assess how findings from the two data sources compare, where they agree, where they diverge, and what light qualitative findings may shed on the quantitative data.

If data are available over an extended period of time, it may be possible to examine trends. For example, is there a discernable decrease in the number of school-age children regularly accessing oral health services? Is there an increase in the number of children with tooth decay enrolling in Head Start or kindergarten? What was occurring during these time frames that may have influenced the trends? For example, have Medicaid dental reimbursement rates kept up with inflation?

Analyzing gaps between an acceptable standard and data obtained can also yield information that is useful for planning community oral health programs. The key in a gap analysis is determining the minimum standard to which current assessment findings will be compared. For example, if the tooth decay rate is higher in children enrolled in Head Start than the Head Start standard, a gap has been identified. The needs assessment planning committee can work together to determine the standard against which current data can be compared. Possible standards include Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) program regulations and Healthy People 2010 objectives.

Once data have been collected, organized, and analyzed, it is time to move to the next step in the process—using this information for planning.

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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