Community Health Trends

The IRS requires each non-profit hospital to assess the health needs in its community every 3 years. Through Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs), non-profit hospitals identify their community’s health-related needs and craft strategies to address at least a few of those needs. A hospital’s CHNA process must include local partners and stakeholders.

In 2016, VHCF and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) collaborated to conduct the first-ever analysis of all 73 CHNAs conducted in Virginia between 2011 and 2015 (65 by non-profit hospitals, 7 by local health departments, and 1 by a health foundation). The purpose was to identify common themes across CHNAs to inform and guide providers, public officials, and other stakeholders committed to achieving population health gains in identifying priority health needs.

The Executive Summary outlines the five most frequently reported leading health issues and critical service gaps in the CHNAs. It includes CHNA data regarding health professional shortages, examines top causes of potentially avoidable hospitalizations, and includes priority areas for strategies to improve Virginians’ health. Highlights include:

  • Obesity and related conditions (heart disease and diabetes) account for three of the top five reported leading health issues across all Virginia CHNAs.
  • Most CHNAs (92%) cite inadequate access to oral health care as a concern.
  • Behavioral health and substance abuse round out the top five leading health issues identified in CHNAs.
  • Behavioral health was noted as critical service gap in 85% of CHNAs.
  • Two of the most commonly reported strategies to address community health issues – “Address Obesity and Related Effects” and “Promote Nutrition, Wellness, and a Healthy Lifestyle” – target obesity, a prevalent and preventable condition.

Non-profit hospitals and health systems publish their CHNAs and related Implementation Plans on their websites. Individual summaries of each assessment included in the analysis can be downloaded here:

This project was completed in partnership with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Last Updated on October 7, 2021