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Community Health Assessment aNd Group Evaluation (CHANGE): Building a Foundation of Knowledge to Prioritize Community Needs

This program is no longer funded. Learn more about current programs.

The CHANGE tool helps community teams (such as coalitions) develop their community action plan. This tool walks community team members through the assessment process and helps define and prioritize possible areas of improvement. Having this information as a guide, community team members can create sustainable, community-based improvements that address the root causes of chronic diseases and related risk factors. It can be used annually to assess current policy, systems, and environmental change strategies and offer new priorities for future efforts.

Purpose of the CHANGE Tool

  • Identify community strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Identify and understand the status of community health needs.
  • Define improvement areas to guide the community towards population-based strategies that create a healthier environment (e.g., increased physical activity, improved nutrition, reduced tobacco use and exposure, and chronic disease management).
  • Assist with prioritizing community needs and consider appropriate allocation of available resources.
Where can I find the CHANGE tool?

The CHANGE tool is located within the Building a Foundation of Knowledge to Prioritize Community Needs Action Guide, which walks you through a step-by-step process for completing the tool. In addition, this Action Guide provides resources for team building along with worksheets, templates and Excel Files to support the data collection and review processes. To use the CHANGE tool, download the Action Guide.

CHANGE Tool Benefits

  • Allows local stakeholders to work together in a collaborative process to survey their community.
  • Offers suggestions and examples of policy, systems, and environmental change strategies.
  • Provides feedback to communities as they institute local-level change for healthy living.

The Five Sectors of the CHANGE Tool

For each sector, this tool includes specific questions to be answered in the areas of demographics, physical activity, nutrition, tobacco, chronic disease management, and leadership. In addition, the school sector includes questions related to the school district and after-school program.

  • Community-At-Large Sector includes communitywide efforts that impact the social and built environments, such as improving food access, walkability or bikeability, tobacco use and exposure, or personal safety.
  • Community Institution/Organization Sector includes entities within the community that provide a broad range of human services and access to facilities, such as childcare settings, faith-based organizations, senior centers, boys and girls clubs, YMCAs, and colleges or universities.
  • Health Care Sector includes places where people go to receive preventive care or treatment, or emergency health care services, such as hospitals, private doctors' offices, and community clinics.
  • School Sector includes all primary and secondary learning institutions (e.g., elementary, middle, and high schools, whether private, public, or parochial).
  • Work Site Sector includes places of employment, such as private offices, restaurants, retail establishments, and government offices.

Tracking Progress with the CHANGE Tool

CHANGE is a data-collection tool that allows community team members to track progress across a five-point scale, so incremental changes can be noted. As problem areas are identified, health-related policies are implemented, and systems and environmental change strategies are put in place, team members can document the community-level changes.