Community Assessment and Key Informants

Community health nurses begin the nursing process with assessment of a community.  It is essential to know your specific community to identify health needs, determine a community health nursing diagnosis, develop a plan-of-action, and implement and evaluate the nursing intervention.  You may also identify health-related resources and note gaps in services. The first step in a community assessment is subjective data collection. Two methods will be used for this assignment: Windshield Survey and Key Informant interviews. This assignment is 20% of your overall course grade.

  • In the description of the core community, identify the geographical boundaries of your focal point. Describe geographic markers for the boundary lines. For example, you would indicate

which street, railroad track, creek, and/or other marks the north boundary.  Do the same for all four geographic directions from your focal point.  Set the scene for the reader in descriptive

terms.  A paragraph of this description will suffice.

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  • For those of you who prefer to use a census tract to define your assessment community, this is an option. It is not a course requirement. Refer to course resources to locate information on how to access census tracts.  The use of either a focal point or a census tract will receive equal

grade value.


  • All template sections must be complete and thorough.
  • Each community is unique. Add data as necessary to the template provided.
  • Use free text areas for additional information from textbook or notes.
  • Provide reference demographic information for informant interviews.
  • Photographs can be included as appropriate.  (Recommended not required.)

Windshield Survey

A Windshield Survey is conducted from a car and provides a visual, cursory overview of your community. Geographic boundaries are to be noted.  Common characteristics are observed, as well as, the rhythm of a community.  Data collected during the Windshield Survey will help define community trends, stability of neighborhoods, and conditions that could affect the health of the population.  This will provide background and context for working within a community. This data is one component of a complete assessment.  Observations will also drive your community diagnoses.  In order to compile the best data possible and formulate a complete picture of your community, you may drive in your assigned area a minimum of three occasions at varying times, for example, one weekday morning, one weekday evening, and one weekend day.


General Safety Tips:


Key Informant Interviews

Key Informant interviews are direct communications with community members.  Talking with community members is essential in effective data collection and provides depth to a community assessment.  Information from Key Informant interviews further probes the community’s needs, wants and priorities,  as perceived by a community member.  This qualitative information will complement the findings from your Windshield Survey and guide you in developing and adjusting your community diagnoses.  Selected members of a community are interviewed to note personal stories and opinions of a target community.  A Key Informant can be any person who has a good understanding of your target community.  Key Informants are not always persons with a formal title or position.  Informal Key Informants should also be included, as feasible.  Potential key informants include community member, teacher or school counselor, religious or secular leader, police officer, firefighter, local service provider, and others.  Interviews can take place formally or informally – preferably in a setting familiar to the informant.  Observe

safety precautions.  Conduct the interview in a public place.


Part One: Windshield Survey and Key Informant Interviews


Please complete the following information about your target community.  Be certain to use your textbook as a guide.  Refer to the corresponding  grading rubric to assist you to

follow directions and include all required areas in the community assessment.



  Windshield Survey

  1. Housing and Zoning: Does the area have a local name/informal nickname?  What is the age of the houses? What types of construction materials are used? Are the houses single family or multifamily?  Are there apartments?  How many?  Are the houses similar in age?  Do houses have space between, in front or behind?  Describe the general appearance and condition of houses in the neighborhood (maintained yards, gardens, fences).  Do houses/apartments have signs of disrepair, such as, broken doors, broken windows, spray paint, vacancies, liter/trash or abandoned cars?  Is there presence of central heating and air conditioning units in the yards?  Are the houses located in an industrial area, near busy highways, train tracks, or



  1. Demographics: Describe the demographics of the area residents you see.  Describe age, gender, generational families, single families,  and the presence of homeless persons, as applicable.   What races/ethnicities do you see?    Remember to state what is observed.

Do not use statistical references here.  You will use statistical data in Assignment 2.


  1. Ethnicity: Do you note indicators of different ethnic groups (for example, flags, signage, restaurants, festivals, newspapers/magazines) ? Are there indices of ethnicity—dress/clothing,  businesses,  food stores, places of worship,  private schools, information/ signage  in a language other than English [indicate language(s)]?  What is the predominant ethnic group?


  1. Values and Beliefs: Are there churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, or faith- based  schools in the area?  What are their denominations?  Are the lawns in the community cared for?  With flowers?  Gardens?  Signs of art?  Culture?  Heritage?  Historical markers?  Religious items in lawn/ small gardens.


  1. Physical Environment: What do you note about air quality? Are there any busy highways, manufacturing areas, construction sites, gas/oil drilling sites?  Are there any signs of water pollution or landfills?  Are there open spaces, green areas, natural beauty, and water?  Are there city parks or other recreational areas?  Describe the condition of open, public areas?  Is the space used, safe and attractive?  Is the area well-kept or is there evidence of trash, abandoned cars, or houses.  Do you see trees along pavements or in median?  Are sidewalks in good repair?  What defines the boundaries (Major roads/streets/freeways, water, railroads)?


  1. Health & Social Services: Evidence of acute or chronic conditions? Shelters?  “Traditional” healers (e.g. curanderos, herbalists)?  Are there clinics, hospitals, practitioners’ offices, dentists, pharmacies, public health services, home health agencies, emergency centers, nursing homes, social service facilities, and mental health and/or substance abuse services?


How far are they, if not in the census area?  What are the resources outside the community that are accessible to the residents of the assessment area?  Free Clinics? Are there parks nearby, walking trails, play grounds, sports fields, fitness centers, or recreation centers nearby for exercise?  Do you see people out walking, children on school playgrounds after school?


Did you observe obesity in the population?  Did you observe people smoking?  Are there any grocery stores, farmer’s markets or fresh food available in or near the assessment area?  Is there evidence of a Food Desert?  What is the number of fast food restaurants? Do you see bill boards marketing health services?


  1. Economy: Is it a “thriving” community or does it appear to be in decline? Where do people shop?   What evidence do you see of unemployment or day labor usage?  What type of business climate exists?  Describe businesses in the area, for example, manufacturers, light or heavy industry, big business employers, presence of small business, retail, and/or  hospitality industry?  Do people have to seek employment elsewhere?  If so, how far do the residents

need to travel to access employment?


  1. Transportation and Safety: What type and age of automobiles/motorcycles/bicycles do you see? What type of private and public transportation is available? Where do people shop and how do they get there?  Do you see buses, taxis and how effective or timely?


Are there sidewalks, bike and walking trails? Is getting around in the community possible for people with disabilities (e.g. Handitran)?  What types of protective services are there (for example, fire, police, sanitation)?  What evidence of crime do you see, including property crime , such as graffiti, boarded up windows or doors?  Do you see animals running loose, on a leash or contained?  Do you see evidence of community involvement such as Neighborhood Crime Watch signs?  Did you see signs for evidence of storm shelters, tornado sirens ,or evacuation routes?


  1. Politics and Government: Are there signs of political activity , such as posters, meetings, and headquarters? What party affiliation predominates?  Are there bumper stickers on cars and trucks displaying candidates?


  1. Communication: Are there “common areas” where people gather? Who hangs out there, and what time of day? What newspapers do you see in the stands? What are the formal and informal means of communication that you observe?  Do you observe cell phone/ IPad/Tablet usage?  Did you observe TV dishes or antennas on houses. Where do people gather in informal groups for person-to-person communication?  [This will be answered in more detail in Key Informant interviews].


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