GEDI Week: Natalia Woolley on Culturally Responsive Data Collection Methods for Community Needs Assessments

My name is Natalia Woolley. I am a GEDI scholar from the 2014-15 cohort, and a graduate student in the Community Health Sciences department at UCLA. As part of the GEDI program, I interned at Kaiser Permanente (KP), in the Community Benefit Department’s evaluation unit.

At KP, I provided support for the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), a federally mandated process all non-profit hospitals must conduct every three years. During the internship I focused on the methods used to collect and analyze primary and secondary data. I also collaborated in the department’s efforts to ensure primary data collection methods were systematically responsive to the cultural diversity found in the communities served by KP.

Lessons Learned:

Operationalizing culturally responsive practices is a challenge. Although many scholars have defined culture and articulated its importance when conducting evaluations, it is still a challenge to operationalize some cultural concepts. Nevertheless, I believe acknowledging the challenge is an important step into making needs assessments more culturally responsive.

Successful primary data collection should be culturally responsive. Hospitals must collect primary data as part of the CHNA. This process allows hospitals to better understand the communities’ main health issues, priorities and resources. To successfully connect with community members, hospitals should ensure their outreach and engagement are culturally responsive.

Hot Tips:

Helpful Hints: Secondary data can inform culturally responsive primary data collection. Secondary data provides a great deal of information about the groups living in each community. For example, secondary analysis results can provide a snapshot of the community demographics, including the population percentage with limited English proficiency. Evaluators can use this information to include language appropriate resources in the data collection process.

However, secondary data might miss some marginalized groups. To go beyond the secondary data, it is helpful to identify and contact organizations working with marginalized groups. For instance, Los Angeles County has an extensive database of organizations providing services to groups in need ( Another possible option is to solicit input from community health workers servicing these groups.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s GEDI Program and its interns. For more information on GEDI, see their webpage here: Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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