Conducting Culturally Responsive Community Needs Assessments

Lisa Suzuki, Taymy Caso, Cirecie West-Olatunji, Maria Prendes-Lintel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Community assessment utilizes an ecological approach by gathering qualitative and quantitative data to examine contextual factors that may play a role in the creation and maintenance of resources, needs, and concerns impacting a community. Inclusion of culturally competent interdisciplinary stakeholders who have knowledge of a community from a strengths-based perspective is critical. We highlight the process of community assessment from the initial planning stage to developing a community action plan. Strategies such as recruiting a community advisory board and use of qualitative (e.g., interviews, focus groups, observations, social media applications, photo journals), and quantitative measures focusing on various facets of community (e.g., resources, social capital, neighborhood characteristics) are considered important parts of the community needs assessment. Two case examples are provided to illustrate how community assessment can be used to inform service provision. The first case addresses the needs of underserved members of a growing community of refugee families, and the second addresses concerns to improve the academic performance of Black and Latinx students in two large public school districts. Both cases reflect the complexities of community-based assessment involving stakeholders from different professional disciplines with potentially unique agendas, various qualitative and quantitative data sources, and innovative action plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Community Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary and Contextual Perspectives
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781108678971
ISBN (Print)9781108492188
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Community needs assessment
  • Community-engaged interventions
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Participatory action

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • General Medicine

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