Revista de Saúde Pública ()

Setting health priorities in a community: a case example

  • Fábio Alexandre Melo do Rego Sousa,
  • Maria José Garcia Goulart,
  • Antonieta Manuela dos Santos Braga,
  • Clara Maria Oliveira Medeiros,
  • Débora Cristina Martins Rego,
  • Flávio Garcia Vieira,
  • Helder José Alves da Rocha Pereira,
  • Helena Margarida Correia Vicente Tavares,
  • Marta Maria Puim Loura

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 51, no. 0


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ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE To describe the methodology used in the process of setting health priorities for community intervention in a community of older adults. METHODS Based on the results of a health diagnosis related to active aging, a prioritization process was conceived to select the priority intervention problem. The process comprised four successive phases of problem analysis and classification: (1) grouping by level of similarity, (2) classification according to epidemiological criteria, (3) ordering by experts, and (4) application of the Hanlon method. These stages combined, in an integrated manner, the views of health team professionals, community nursing and gerontology experts, and the actual community. RESULTS The first stage grouped the identified problems by level of similarity, comprising a body of 19 issues for analysis. In the second stage these problems were classified by the health team members by epidemiological criteria (size, vulnerability, and transcendence). The nine most relevant problems resulting from the second stage of the process were submitted to expert analysis and the five most pertinent problems were selected. The last step identified the priority issue for intervention in this specific community with the participation of formal and informal community leaders: Low Social Interaction in Community Participation. CONCLUSIONS The prioritization process is a key step in health planning, enabling the identification of priority problems to intervene in a given community at a given time. There are no default formulas for selecting priority issues. It is up to each community intervention team to define its own process with different methods/techniques that allow the identification of and intervention in needs classified as priority by the community.