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A group of faculty, staff and students from Creighton University conducted a research project using a strengths-based approach to create a community health needs assessment (CNHA) in the fall of 2017. The instruments, including a survey to determine health status, a focus group questionnaire, an environmental scan and an individual interview instrument, were developed to help shift the paradigm from which many international medical missions are conducted with Creighton’s community partner in the Dominican Republic, the Centro de Educación para la Salud Integral (CESI). In the process of creating, developing, implementing, assessing and reformulating this strength-based CHNA, researchers encountered both unexpected challenges and opportunities. Results showed that diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia were prevalent to a degree which suggests the charity model for a medical mission may not be sufficiently effective at preventing disease and may inhibit community agency. The goal was to encourage both individual and community agency through knowledge gleaned from the assessments. With better knowledge of the community, its strengths and deficiencies, both CESI and Creighton are better positioned to make an option for the poor in practice that will help reduce the prevalence of chronic disease and improve long term quality of life. This bi-national, bi-lingual and interdisciplinary research project was both an educational and cautionary tale.



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