Mapping Community Needs – Understanding Gaps and Access Barriers

The Community Health Transformation platform team has been working on developing a tool that would allow for evaluation of an individual’s level of connectedness with community health resources. The tool is a further development of the Social Determinants of Health developed by Dahlgren and Whitehead in their 1991 Policies and Strategies to Promote Social Equity and Health.

This tool aids in understanding the latent needs of communities by taking a holistic view of an individual’s or community’s health. The tool provides an ability to analyze the community resources that are available and accessed to contribute to an individual’s health and well-being.

To evaluate an individual, one places that person in the center of the tool. The resources present in the innermost ring represent those that are vital for functioning normally with society, such as stable housing, a reliable income and guaranteed healthy food. As that individual is unable to find resources to fulfill the needs contained within that innermost ring, the outer rings represent social service programs within a community that may catch a people as they fall through the first ring.  As the rings move further outward, the resources become more remote and less personalized to the individual.

By mapping multiple individuals within a community or population and overlaying the tools, one can understand the resource gaps within a community as well as perceived barriers to access for individuals.

Community Health Platform team: Allison Verdoorn, Mary Severson, Rose Anderson and Douglas Wood, M.D.