This paper describes a comprehensive, science-based approach for conducting a popu­lation health assessment (PHA), a process for identifying upstream nonmedical, social and economic determinants of health in a community, including risk factors associated with poor health status. A PHA focuses on diagnosing and improving population health disparities using public, private, and community-based strategies and resources. The paper traces the evolution of PHAs from community health needs assessments and community benefits planning. It describes the PHA process, methods, data, and analyt­ical techniques that permit the identification of specific underlying factors in a commu­nity that adversely affect health. It also suggests criteria to prioritize health issues and strategies that help communities implement sustainable policy, infrastructure, or services improvements.

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