Community Planning for Health Assessment: CHA & CHIP

Key points

  • A community health assessment (CHA) refers to a state, tribal, local, or territorial health assessment that identifies key health needs and issues through systematic, comprehensive data collection, and analysis.
  • A community health improvement plan (CHIP) utilizes the results of community health assessment activities and the community health improvement process.
Two hands each holding a puzzle piece in the foreground and a sunset in the background.

Community Health Assessment (CHA)

The Public Health Accreditation Board defines community health assessment (or CHA) as a comprehensive picture of a community's current health status, factors contributing to higher health risks or poorer health outcomes, and community resources available to improve health. Community health assessments are comprised of data and information from multiple sources, which describe the community's demographics; health status; morbidity and mortality; socioeconomic characteristics; quality of life; community resources; behavioral factors; the environment (including the built environment); and other social and structural determinants of health status —Public Health Accreditation Board, Standards-Measures-Initial-Accreditation-Version-2022.pdf (, October 2022.

Community health assessments use such principles as:

  • Multisector collaborations that support shared ownership of all phases of community health improvement, including assessment, planning, investment, implementation, and evaluation.
  • Proactive, broad, and diverse community engagement to improve results.
  • A definition of community that encompasses both a significant enough area to allow for population-wide interventions and measurable results, and includes a targeted focus to address disparities among subpopulations.
  • Maximum transparency to improve community engagement and accountability.
  • Use of evidence-based interventions and encouragement of innovative practices with thorough evaluation.
  • Evaluation to inform a continuous improvement process.
  • Use of the highest quality data pooled from, and shared among, diverse public and private sources

From Principles to Consider for the Implementation of a Community Health Needs Assessment Process [PDF – 457KB] (June 2013), Sara Rosenbaum, JD, The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Department of Health Policy.

Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP)

A community health improvement plan (or CHIP) is a long-term, systematic effort to address public health problems based on the results of community health assessment activities and the community health improvement process. A plan is typically updated every three to five years.

The Public Health Accreditation Board defines a community health improvement plan as not being limited to issues clarified within traditional public health or health services categories, but may include environmental, business, economic, housing, land use, and other community issues indirectly affecting the public's health. A community health improvement planning process involves an ongoing collaborative, community-wide effort to identify, analyze, and address health problems; assess applicable data; develop measurable health objectives and indicators; inventory community assets and resources; identify community perceptions; develop and implement coordinated strategies; identify accountable entities; and cultivate community ownership of the process — Public Health Accreditation Board, Public Health Accreditation Board Acronyms and Glossary of Terms Version 2022 [PDF – 536KB], October 2022.

CHA & CHIP Benefits

A community health assessment gives organizations comprehensive information about the community's current health status, needs, and issues. This information can help develop a community health improvement plan by justifying how and where resources should be allocated to best meet community needs.

Benefits include

  • Improved organizational and community coordination and collaboration.
  • Increased knowledge about public health and the interconnectedness of activities.
  • Strengthened partnerships within state and local public health systems.
  • Identified strengths and weaknesses to address in quality improvement efforts.
  • Baselines on performance to use in preparing for accreditation.
  • Benchmarks for public health practice improvements.

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