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Needs assessment in public health. A practical guide for students and professionals
  1. S McCord
  1. Hugh Adam Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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    D J Peterson, G R Alexander. (Pp 139; $37.50). Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, 2001. ISBN 0-306-46530-2.

    An excellent overview of the principles and application of needs assessment for the development and implementation of public health policy is provided. The issues surrounding the involvement of public and private agencies in needs assessment are discussed non-judgementally. The necessary requirements and processes for the use of focus groups as part of the needs assessment and policy development are well described as are the strengths and limitations of the data sources. The authors also succinctly lay out the framework for developing solutions to meet needs identified including the role of governments, how to influence the political process necessary for implementation and, where necessary, effecting legislative change.

    The role of the core needs assessment team is outlined and emphasis placed on needs assessment as a continuing process with appropriate monitoring and evaluation.

    Most chapters end by posing questions for the reader based around three fictitious scenarios. While provision of possible answers to the questions as an appendix would have been useful for readers, and the topics covered could have been given a little more life by citing failures and successes of different approaches with analytical accounts from academic journals, the book is very thorough in dealing with the topics introduced.

    Overall, this is an excellent book that will be very useful for both students and professionals alike.

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