Community Health Needs Assessment Data and Tools

Every four years, local health departments in North Carolina prepare a Community Health Needs Assessments for their county (or multi-county) service area. Preparing a Community Health Needs Assessment includes assembling data on health outcomes, resources, and needs, as well as basic social and demographic data. Recently, non-profit hospitals have also begun to prepare assessments for their service areas. Community Health Centers are also required to assess community health. As a result, the Community Health Assessment Process has become broader, and now includes community partners such as non-profits and community service organizations.

One component of the mission of the Center for Health Systems Research and Development is to provide readily accessible population health data that will support local health departments and health-focused community organizations in their work to monitor and improve the health of all North Carolinians. This section of our web page pulls together several resources aimed at assisting health organizations by providing access to health, social, and demographic data.

These resources include the Health Data Explorer, a query-able data mapping tool, BRFSS reports, and reports on the Regional Health Status of the eastern North Carolina Region. Some of these tools provide data at the county level (Explorer, North Carolina Health Care Atlas), while others provide information on the health status of the Eastern North Carolina region. CHSRD's primary focus is health in Eastern North Carolina, but the Explorer tool includes data on all North Carolina counties. Link's to the resources, as well as descriptions of each, are provided below.


The Health Data Explorer provides access to health data for North Carolina Counties in an interactive, user-friendly atlas of maps, tables, and charts. It allows users to select, visualize, explore and download data on major disease mortality, disparities between groups, social and economic factors, and health behaviors. Users can also print maps and explore image files from the Explorer.

Health Indicators

The Health Indicators reports describe 30 year trends in mortality rates for North Carolina regions and counties. The reports describe trends in total mortality (all causes of death combined), premature mortality, and crude and age-adjusted mortality, for 10 leading causes of death, as well as rates by race and gender. Reports are produced annually for the 41-county Eastern North Carolina region (counties east of I-95) and for the 29-county Northeastern region. Reports are produced periodically for individual counties and other regions.


The CHSRD compiles and posts periodic reports based on data from the North Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey data. The reports describe and analyze the prevalence of those personal behaviors most relevant to the health issues affecting Eastern North Carolina and, where data are sufficient, analyses for multi county sub-regions.

Regional Health Status

If the 41 counties of eastern North Carolina were a state, it would rank 43rd in terms of premature mortality (i.e. years of life lost before age 75) among the 50 states (based on 2014 US mortality data). This section of the web page compares the health for the 41-county Eastern North Carolina region and the 29-county region to health for North Carolina overall. It includes a comparison of mortality rates, maps of county level premature mortality, and maps of North Carolina's Health Professionals Shortage Areas.

Guidebook on Local Planning for Health Communities (pdf)

This guidebook on planning for healthy communities is designed to assist local planners in integrating health considerations into the planning process, but it will also be useful for local public health officials. It will help these two groups work together to plan and build healthier communities. The guide provides an overview of planning and community health topics, such as design for active living, environmental health, and food "deserts". It also provides a list of North Carolina data sources and a template to assist with organizing data on community conditions (population, housing, economy).

Health ENC

The Health ENC web platform is a resource for the community health needs assessment (CHNA) process in eastern North Carolina and is a program of the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation (FHLI). Health departments and hospital leaders in the 33 county region are invited to use the site as a tool for community assessment, strategic planning, identifying best practices for improvement, collaboration and advocacy.