I'm just over halfway through my final project for my degree in public health. I'm performing a health-needs assessment, specific to falls prevention, for a town in the northeast of England. I used to think I knew a lot about this service.
I've been evaluating the literature for evidence-based interventions, as well as proven and potential risk factors. I've been collecting data from the office of national statistics on population trends, socioeconomic status, mortality and morbidity statistics, and lifestyle behaviors. I've searched the NHS, Department of Health and National Institute of Clinical Excellence sites for policy and guidance. I've dug for cost-benefit analysis of various interventions, including the "doing-nothing-at-all" option.
I've interviewed the public to discover their attitudes and beliefs about falls and falls services. I've interviewed stakeholders on their role in prevention and treatment of falls and fractures. I've conducted focus groups of potential service users to see how they felt about access and treatment and what knowledge they had about existing services. I've created surveys and sampled according to accepted research design protocols.
I've found gaps in service, dedicated professionals, overworked individuals, suspicious patients and clinicians, devoted volunteers and so much information to assemble.
That's what goes into determining the need for a service. Now I've got to put it all together into a meaningful report along with my recommendations for the commissioners to consider. I really have a much greater appreciation for what work goes into planning a service, even one that I know really well.