13.1.1 Components of a community profile report
Your community profile (i.e. the report of your community survey) should contain the components listed in Box 13.1. Note that this format is exactly the same for the report of a small-scale research project or for a large-scale national survey. It is recognised internationally as the standard format for all forms of research report.
Box 13.1 Components of a community profile report
- Cover page
- Table of contents
- Survey methods
- Conclusion and recommendations
The Results, Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations sections should form the most substantial part of your report. The completed report should contain the following information in each section.
The cover page of your community profile report should contain the title, your name and the month and year that you submitted the report. The title should include the name of the study area, for example ‘Community Profile of Village X: Report of a Community Survey’.
The summary should contain very brief descriptions (in no more than a few sentences each) in the following sequence:
- The location of the community survey (where it took place).
- The problem (why this survey was needed).
- The main objectives (what the survey set out to achieve).
- The type of survey and methods used (e.g. a community-level survey using questionnaires, interviews and focus groups for data collection).
- A list summarising the major findings and conclusions.
- A list summarising the major recommendations.
You may need to be prepared to write different versions of the summary for health managers, for health staff at your level or lower levels (e.g. volunteers) and for community members.
Table of contents
The Table of contents provides the reader with a quick overview of the major sections of your survey report, with the page number of the first page in each section. This enables the person reading to go straight to particular sections of interest. Look at the Table of contents for this Module to see the style you should use.
Your introduction should begin by stating the purpose (objectives) of developing a community profile for your kebele. Then give some relevant background information about the community, what was previously known about the health status of the population, and any health service data which is relevant to the community profile. You may also include any background information on any relevant environmental, administrative, economic or social issues.
This should be followed by brief descriptions of the main categories of information that you have collected and investigated. Refer briefly to any additional information which you have obtained during the implementation of the survey.
Any relevant reports or documents you have found helpful should be briefly reviewed in your introduction section. It should end with a paragraph on what you hope (or hoped) to achieve by surveying your community and developing a community profile.
The method you used to collect your data should be described in detail. This section should include a description of:
- The survey type.
- Major survey themes or variables (a more detailed list of variables on which data was collected may be put in an appendix).
- The survey population, which in the case of a community profile will be all members of all households in your area.
- How the data was collected and by whom, including how you trained other data collectors (e.g. volunteers, model family members) to collect the data.
- The procedures you used for data analysis, including any statistical tests (if applicable), as described in Study Session 12.
The results section should contain a systematic presentation of your findings in relation to the survey purpose and is a crucial part of your report. The description of findings should include a combination of data from qualitative and quantitative components of the survey. They may be best presented as Tables and/or Figures (diagrams, e.g. graphs, flow charts, etc.), each with a unique number (e.g. Table 2, Figure 7, etc.) and a caption describing the Table or Figure clearly. Figure 13.1 shows two graphs, each with a clear heading. The results should also be described in words, referring to any Tables and Figures you include.
The findings presented in the Results section should be discussed in this section. It is a good idea to refer back to the purposes of the community survey at this stage. The discussion may include findings from other related surveys that support or contradict your own. For example, if there has been a previous community survey for the same area, your discussion should refer to any features of community health, demographic or epidemiological factors, health service use, environmental conditions, etc. that have changed since the previous report.
Conclusions and recommendations
The conclusions and recommendations should follow logically from the discussion of the findings. Conclusions can be short. For example, if the community survey showed that some parents have not brought their children for immunization, your conclusion could be that additional health education campaigns or more outreach immunization sessions should be organised to improve the coverage rate.
Your recommendations should be placed in the same order as the conclusions, i.e. for every conclusion there should be at least one recommendation. However, the recommendations may be summarised according to the groups to which they are directed (Box 13.1).
Box 13.1 Groups who need to consider your recommendations
- Health and health-related managers at district or local level.
- Health and health-related staff who could implement your recommended activities.
- Potential partners, e.g. community groups, volunteers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or other healthcare providers, etc.
- Community leaders and community members.
In making recommendations, it will strengthen your messages if you can use not only the findings of your own community survey, but also refer to supportive information from other sources. The recommendations should take into consideration the local characteristics of the health system, any constraints on introducing new services or working practices, and the feasibility and usefulness of the proposed solutions. They should be discussed with all concerned before they are finalised.
Imagine that a community profile demonstrated there is a shortage of insecticide treated bed nets (ITNs) in a kebele where there are also many malaria cases. What will be your recommendation and what constraints may delay your recommendation from being adopted?
Your recommendation would be to distribute ITNs to all households and educate the families on using them correctly. There may be a delay in adopting this recommendation if ITNs are not available locally, or if there is not enough funding to buy a sufficient number of nets. If you don’t discuss the policy of distributing nets with all concerned in the community, they may not support your recommendations.
It is good practice to thank those who supported you technically or provided resources for your community survey, including the volunteers or others who were involved in the house-to-house data collection phase.
If you used any reports, documents or any other sources to help you make sense of the data in your survey, you should quote the full references in this section, including the year of publication and the name(s) of the author(s).
The Annex(es) (also known as an Appendix, or Appendices if there is more than one) should contain any additional information needed to enable readers to follow your survey procedures and data analysis. Examples of information that can be presented in an Annex are:
- Tables referred to in the text, but not included in order to keep the report short.
- Questionnaires or checklists used for data collection.
In the next section, we consider ways in which the community profile can help you to identify problems for further investigation in a small-scale research project, and how you decide which topics to prioritise for further research.