Community Assessment Tools and External Resources for Prevention Contractors

Introduction to Community Assessment Tools

Community assessments address one or more of the following areas of concern:

  • Needs of the population
  • Agency capacity to meet the needs of the population
  • Community capacity to meet the needs of the population

This page provides links to samples of tools used to collect information for these purposes. It also provides links to general information about community assessment. In planning for a community assessment, it is not necessary to limit your search data collection tool to search to traditional surveys. Observational tools can provide very useful insights into community needs. More so when the people who are very familiar with the community also collect the data. The “Condom Access Data Collection Form” and “Population Needs Observational Report” are examples of observational tools.

Needs of the Population

Prevention programs can use population needs assessments to shape their future programming to refine current programming. Assessments of population needs collect the following information:

  • Demographic information (age, race/ethnicity, gender, etc.)
  • Risk behaviors and factors associated with risk (unprotected sex, multiple partners, drug use, etc.)
  • Knowledge of HIV/STD transmission/prevention
  • Services they would like to see in the community
  • Observations of behavior patterns within the daily lives of the target population
  • When, where, and how services are needed to meet the needs of the target population

This information is typically collected in one-on-one interviews, mailed or emailed surveys, and/or focus groups. Focus groups are often used to develop an understanding of issues of the greatest importance which are then addressed in a community-wide survey. In some cases, before interview/survey data can be collected, respondents must be given some type of informed consent. It can be in either spoken or written form.

Agency capacity to meet the needs of the population

Prevention programs can optimize the fit between the resources they have. They build capacity by assessing their ability to meet the needs for services they identify in the population. Needs include services needed, as well as when, where, and how they can be delivered. These assessments can be drawn from the understanding of their staff as well as their clients.

Community capacity to meet the needs of the population

Prevention programs seeking to optimize the efforts by coordinating their work with other programs will benefit from a community-wide assessment of programming capacity. This type of assessment could involve one or more of the following:

  • Community-wide population surveys
  • Key informant interviews
  • Observations of community sites and resources
  • Survey of prevention programs in the community
  • A study of attempts to coordinate services across programs, including planning group and task force documents

A Note on Sample Tools Provided

Prevention programs in Texas developed and use the tools provided below. Before adopting one, programs should determine the exact goals of their community assessment. They should also identify components of these various data collection tools that would help them get the information they seek.

Sample Tools

Population Needs

Agency Capacity

Community Capacity


External Resources for HIV Prevention Programs

Community Assessment and Community Mobilization Resources

Promising Interventions and Practices

Disclaimer: Information posted on this webpage is a reference tool for contractors. The content does not necessarily represent the views of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) nor is it endorsed by DSHS. Contractors must get the appropriate permissions when replicating or dispersing any materials.