The Hispanic Health Needs Assessment (HHNA) instrument represents almost 15 years of work using the HHNA process to document and advocate for the health needs of Hispanic communities. The HHNA process is unique in two ways. One it provides Hispanic communities with tools to self-identify critical health issues and priorities thought existing public health data systems as well as community surveys. This process of self-identification is critical to the success of HHNA as more than collecting information, it serves as an organizing vehicle for a community health team. Secondly, HHNA uses the Healthy People objectives to document current community health status and progress to goals. The Healthy People objectives are set every ten years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as health goals for the Nation for the decade ahead. State and local health departments must show progress to these goals. By using these objectives, HHNA can help communities hold State and local health departments accountable for collecting Hispanic specific data and achieving progress in health status and services.
HHNA began in 1987 when the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (the Alliance) started identifying and evaluating existing needs assessment instruments that could be used by Hispanic communities. On the basis of an extensive review, the Alliance selected the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's PATCH (Planned Approach To Community Health) tools for adaptation geared to use by Hispanic communities. The adaptation process took several years and culminated with pilot tests throughout the country. The pilot instrument underwent extensive revision and the first version was published in 1994 utilizing the Healthy People 2000 objectives. An updated version of HHNA was published in 1996 and included progress data on Healthy People 2000 objectives.
This version of HHNA incorporates the new health objectives for the nation, Healthy People 2010. For the first time, after many years of advocacy by the Alliance and others in the public health community, Healthy People has an overall objective of eliminating disparities in health. For this reason, the objectives HHNA utilizes must be show progress specifically for Hispanic populations in your community. As one-third of these health objectives for the Nation do not have Hispanic baseline data, your HHNA local effort is an important part of making sure local data systems under Healthy People 2010 addresses the needs of Hispanic communities. Even where HHNA data are not available, this is an important fact to document to hold health departments and providers accountable to Hispanic community needs. To better help you collect data, national and state data contacts are included as appendices to the HHNA. Furthermore, the downloadable (PDF) version of HHNA (hhna2001_1.pdf) includes links to online data systems that will be updated and expanded as information systems improve.
With the information gathered through HHNA, local leaders can design programs to meet the identified concerns of their Hispanic community or can improve existing services to better serve Hispanics. Most significant of all, a Hispanic Healthy Needs Assessment brings together health and social service professionals with community and political leaders. This joint effort is a critical first step toward better health for all.
Jane L. Delgado, Ph.D., M.S.
President & Chief Executive Officer
The National Alliance for Hispanic Health