Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work




Social service -- Methodology



Physical Description

1 online resource (103 p.)


A need assessment is a systematic process of determining community needs through the comparative analysis of people, problems, and services. Although need assessments of some form have existed since biblical times, it has only been within recent years that their use in social planning has become prominent. This is attributed to the increasing belief in the necessity of pertinent data to make decision-making responsive to community needs.

Ten basic issues should be considered in designing a need assessment, These are: 1) Purpose; 2) Decision-making context; 3) Agency resources; 4) Scope; 5) Future studies; 6) Staff roles; 7) Data collection; 8) Citizen participation: 9) Format; and 10) Evaluation design.In addition, three approaches can be used to perform a need assessment. These are populations-at-risk (people), problems, and services. Essentially, the same information is collected in all approaches, only highlighted in different perspective.

It is necessary to develop categories within which needs and community characteristics can be studied. The categories should be consistent with the assessment approach and easily transformed into planning and decision-making areas.


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A practicum submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Work, Portland State University, 1976.

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