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Topic 2.2 Developing Ways to Communicate with Community Members

Further Community Characterization

Once the community is defined and initial contact is made with community members and other agencies, the health assessor or some other member of the health assessment team might want to visit the community to learn more about it before meeting with community members. While inspecting the area, the health assessor might use a demographic tool to help note locations of important community features in relation to the site. This information is helpful in verifying information gathered about the community before visiting the area and in developing communication plans.

Three types of information that a health assessor might observe while visiting the area near a site include:

  • Signs in languages other than English
  • Indicators of changes in population size
  • Location of sensitive groups (such as people in nursing homes, school children)

Once the community is defined, does that mean the community cannot be redefined during the public health assessment process?

Communities are always changing. The health assessor must be prepared to redefine and recognize any new concerns of a changing community. New industries in the area might result in new people moving quickly into the area just as business closures sometimes result in people leaving the area. New findings at the site might generate new interest from groups or individuals who were not interested or concerned about the site before the new findings.

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