How to Conduct a Needs Assessment

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A Needs assessment is a process by which the problems that are related to people in nursing are examined and framed and the opportunities for performance improvement are identified. In this regard, a needs assessment project can either be used as a response to a particular problem or opportunity or to foster an ongoing learning or as a way to gauge the performance improvement efforts that are required. There are different ways of conducting a needs assessment for a project. These methods have been discussed in several peer-reviewed articles.

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Pittsburg Regional Health Initiative (2011) provides a perfect manual that stipulates why there is a need to reduce chronic disease readmissions. In this article, the causes of the readmissions are analyzed as well as the population that is likely to fall victim of the readmissions. After the identification of the need, a solution of improving the processes of healthcare is proposed. From this, a needs assessment requires the assessment of the need and the possible solution. Bjarnadottir (2015) conducted an interview between May and September from 11 Minimum Data Set (MDS) coordinators about their role and challenges in their roles. The findings of this study are important as they can help the various stakeholders of the nursing home on how they can properly support the MDS coordinators work, so that there can be efficient and accurate processes of assessment. In this regard, a needs assessment can also be conducted by interviewing those who are affected by the need.

The use of the Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is another method of conducting a needs assessment. According to Connelly (2012), RCA can be used for quality improvement as it helps identify the need for improvement. RCA involves the identification of the root cause of the need and the possible ways that can be employed to quench the need. The same assertion has been made by Geerling et al. (2014). In this article, the author states that RCA s a very common method that is used in hospitals to enable the researchers to identify the adverse events and near misses.

Richardson (2007) proposes the use of a systematic review as a way of conducting a needs assessment. In this case, a systematic review of individual patients was conducted to establish those who needed help, care, or support. This information was to be used for medical purposes. Onder et al. (2012), on the other hand, proposes the use of relevant data sets to establish situations that require improvements. In this article, the author opines that the use of data sets is reliable as the data sets are the result of a study.

The use of assessment method has been acknowledged by several authors as one of the best ways of conducting a needs assessment. According to Giger (2014), an assessment will give the right picture of the current need. From that, the intervention will be formulated for the need. Lasater (2007) is a proponent of simulation as the best way of needs assessment. In this regard, the author proposes that simulation can be used to create an assessment rubric that can be used to identify a need. Norusis, M. J. (2007) opines that the use of the SPSS guide is important tool that can analyze data and identify the possible loopholes. This method will provide the best methods to identify the need and possible ways of intervention. Armes (2009) requires the use of assessment tools to assess the gap between the actual services that patients get and the ones that they need. This way, a need will be established and a project for its solution will be proposed.


Armes, J., Crowe, M., Colbourne, L., Morgan, H., Murrells, T., Oakley, C., ... & Richardson, A. (2009). Patients' supportive care needs beyond the end of cancer treatment: a prospective, longitudinal survey. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 27(36), 6172-6179.

Bjarnadottir, R. I., Semeraro, P. K., Herzig, C. T., Pogorzelska-Maziarz, M., Carter, E., Cohen, C. C., ... & Stone, P. W. (2015). Striving for Excellence: Minimum Data Set Coordinators Perceptions of Their Role in the Nursing Home. Journal of gerontological nursing, 41(9), 32-41.Connelly, L. M. (2012). Root cause analysis. Medsurg Nursing, 21(5), 316.

Geerling, J., Chernofsky, M., & Pratt, S. D. (2014). Root Cause Analysis. ASA Newsletter, 78(6), 46-49.

Giger, J. N. (2014). Transcultural nursing: Assessment and intervention. Elsevier Health Sciences.Lasater, K. (2007). Clinical judgment development: Using simulation to create an assessment rubric. Journal of Nursing Education, 46(11), 496-503.

Norusis, M. J. (2007). SPSS 15.0 guide to data analysis. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Onder, G., Carpenter, I., Finne-Soveri, H., Gindin, J., Frijters, D., Henrard, J. C., ... & Landi, F. (2012). Assessment of nursing home residents in Europe: the Services and Health for Elderly in Long term care (SHELTER) study. BMC health services research, 12(1), 5.

Pittsburg Regional Health Initiative. (2011). PRHI Readmission Reduction Guide: A Manual for Preventing Hospitalizations.

Richardson, A., Medina, J., Brown, V., & Sitzia, J. (2007). Patients needs assessment in cancer care: a review of assessment tools. Supportive Care in Cancer, 15(10), 1125-1144.

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