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Student: Jonathan Barnes
Supervisors: Karen Nero [MacMillan Brown Centre, Canterbury University]
Co-supervisors: Pauline Barnett [Public Health CSMHS], Api Api Talimaitoga [Pacific Trust]
Sponsor: Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences


  • To define the different models of health needs assessment, and analyse them in terms of their individual strengths and suitability for using with the Pacific community.
  • To outline current data collection and provide recommendations for improvements with regard to data collection in Canterbury.


Conduct a literature search, both library and internet based, of New Zealand and overseas documents and liaise with key informants.


When dividing health needs assessment approaches into the following four categories: 'population indicators', 'clinical data from health providers', 'community health research' and 'household health assessment', we can see that some methods are more widely used than others. The 'population indicators' approach is, in particular, more widely used and documented, where both community health research and household health assessment are conducted less often and are infrequently formally documented. Clinical data from health providers is regularly collected, although the content of data can vary between different health providers.


While current health needs assessments are useful, there are improvements that could be made to more accurately describe the health care needs of Pacific people.

This report recommends the following:

  • Implementation of steps to improve ethnicity data is continued, until high quality collection procedures are standard and widespread.
  • The collection of more thorough data in the primary clinic scenario should be encouraged. It is, however, recognised that population approaches (such as health needs assessments) often lack relevance for general practitioners and that the lack of incentives for GPs to spend additional time collecting data; will likely need to be addressed.
  • It should be recognised that community based-research (both community health research and household health assessment) provide quality information that can describe the relationship between ill health and its causal factors –particularly with regards to an individual's social, physical and economic environment. As such, community-based research should be used to gain insight into health issues that are currently poorly understood and reporting and sharing of information should be encouraged for existing community interaction that is currently not documented or reported.
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