Data related to the health needs of the community can be obtained from two main sources — these are called primary and secondary sources. Primary sources are data which you collect during a needs assessment, using techniques such as observation, in-depth interviews, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions. Secondary sources are data that were collected and documented for other purposes, including health centre and health post records, activity reports, and research reports. You may also be able to review data which has already been collected by other people to identify local health problems.
Think about a health education issue you are aware of in your community. Make a list of primary and secondary sources of information you could collect on this issue.
You could collect primary information by conducting some interviews with key people in your community, or holding focus group discussions. Secondary sources of information about the health issue may be available from your local health centre, or health post data.
Various techniques can be used to collect data from the community. These include observation, in-depth interviews, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions — which we describe next.