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clinmed/2000020001v1 (April 7, 2000)
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Health Needs Assessment In Primary Care Groups
Peter H Green
PCGs have a duty to commission healthcare according to need. HNAs are therefore essential in determining those need. This study sought to determine where PCGs were in their undertaking of HNA, the issues and the barriers. With a view to identifying and easing the barriers.
Questionnaires, based on a questionnaire previously used by Jordan et al 1996  , were sent to one in four PCGs in England (117) and all the PCGs in the area previously studied by Jordan et al (16) at a time when PCGs had been in existence 6 months.
Main Outcome Measures
Outcomes were comparative between the area of Jordanís previous study and this study and between PCGs of differing characteristics.
All PCGs believed HNA to be an important activity, almost half (48%) had already carried out HNA, and of those 59% reported tangible changes. Almost three-quarters (71%) had plans to carry out HNA and over four-fifths (83%) had plans to consult local people. Areas of assessment were determined at local level (85%).
Four-fifths (79%) reported that they would need support to carry out local HNA, and rated help with surveying patients as the most important need.
There has been a significant change in the importance attached to HNA since the time of Jordanís study. The effectiveness of HNA activity to produce change remains at about two-thirds, and the amount of support requested remains at about 80%, although the nature of that support has changed.
HNA is an important activity for PCGs but support is required, and the nature of that support is likely to change. HNA produces tangible change in about two thirds of cases, this figure remains constant from previous studies. Perhaps more HNA should be encouraged rather than better HNA.