Assessment of health needs is an essential step when defining issues that must be addressed in a workplace health promotion programme. A health needs assessment (HNA) is a systematic method of reviewing the health issues facing a population, while also assessing the structures and programmes already in place that support workplace health promotion. The results of a health needs assessment contribute to developing effective workplace health promotion strategies.
A health needs assessment creates a comprehensive overview of the health challenges and issues confronting a workplace population and serves as a basis for planning activities. It guides the choice of health interventions to be planned and supported, helps create agreement on priorities, and shapes the allocation of resources to promote employee health and well-being.
However, it is important to note that risk assessment, although much narrower in focus, can also identify threats to the well-being of workers, e.g. a stress questionnaire may be used as part of an assessment of risk to mental health and well-being. Therefore, a health needs assessment can include information derived from appropriate risk assessments.
A health needs assessment relies on several sources, including statistical data (e.g. demographic, sector specific, or on work-related health issues, absenteeism, etc.), interviews with stakeholders, focus groups and questionnaires. The skills involved in health needs assessment include data collection, analysis and interpretation, community consultation, communication and consensus building. Planning is required to establish the goals and process of the health needs assessment and who has responsibility for carrying it out.
Social security institutions can carry out a health needs assessment to assess issues that must be addressed prior to planning and implementing a workplace health promotion programme. To define its workplace health promotion activities, the institution must understand the profile and needs of the target group (i.e. workplaces). A health needs assessment is instrumental in this regard.