Epidemiological Perspective The epidemiological perspective on needs assessment focuses on quantifying health problems, using national data sets, and applying epidemiological methods and statistics. This model seeks to answer questions with an epidemiological focus, such as, “What is the magnitude of the problem?” or “What illness and disease trends are evident?” or “What patterns of selectivity are exhibited in the distribution of the problem?” Other questions stemming from this perspective would be, “Is the problem preventable?,” “How treatable is the problem?,” and “What is currently being done?” As these questions suggest, epidemiological models often include a focus on identifying hazards, risks, and precursors to the health problem.
Examples of tools used in the epidemiological model are disease and death registries and national probability sample surveys such as the National Health Information Survey (NHIS) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). An advantage of epidemiological models is that they provide data for assigning relative weights to the seriousness of a health problem, the importance of that health problem, and its prevalence. However, these models do not provide a breadth of data that might also be key in prioritizing health problems.