Introduction Community involvement is the most important strategy in development. In health program planning, community assessment is a process in which society members get a thorough understanding of all matters and problems. This study was conducted to identify and prioritise problems of the ShahinShahr city, in 2009, with active participation of the people. ShahinShahr is a city with a population of over 150 000 located 20 km to the north of Isfahan, Iran. Community assessment is one of the core competencies for Public Health Professionals and it gives them a better understanding about the strengths and drawbacks of their jurisdiction.
Methods The study was based on our local experiences and a model designed in North Carolina, US. In this model, the assessment process is performed in eight steps in ShahinShahar. In the first seven steps problems are identified and prioritised, and in step 8 a plan of action is developed to deal with the problem selected. The assessment team included wide range of key stakeholders and local people were in three levels: Advisory, work and project group. Observation, interview, focus group discussion and summary list of health resources used for data collection.
Results More than 50 problems were identified, of which the following were considered to be top priorities: drug abuse, smoking among adults and depression. After creating community assessment profile, community health action plans were provided.
Conclusion The neglected community assessment is one the best tool for assessing communities to identified and prioritised health problems in developing countries.