Small Area Indicators for Joint Strategic Needs Assessment

The Network of Public Health Observatories is now part of Public Health England.

This page contains historical information.

Updated 4 July 2013

Public Health England has updated this set of indicators at MSOA level for use by organisations carrying out joint strategic needs assessment. The indicators include population estimates, mortality, hospitalisation, lifestyle and socio-economic data.


Local NHS organisations and local authorities (LAs) need to consider the needs of their local populations, and respond with effective commissioning of services to meet those needs. This requirement has been reflected most recently in policy initiatives such as Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), but has been an essential part of the process for planning and commissioning for much longer.

In order to support this challenging agenda it is essential to have a clear understanding of the needs of the whole population and the specific needs of groups within those populations, from the perspective of both the NHS and local authorities.

A thorough understanding of an area requires information about the component parts of the area at the smallest level consistent with reliability, robustness, completeness, and confidentiality.

It is hoped that these small area data will meet the need for health-oriented information. Although the motivating factor was JSNA, the datasets produced will be useful across a range of health profiling and needs assessment activities.

The data are now available through the Local Health tool, which provides interactive maps and reports based on the small area indicators. MSOAs can be combined by the user to create custom geographies: the indicators are recalculated within the tool for these new areas.

Go to the datasets

Geographical Areas

The smallest geographical area used in the datasets is the Middle Level Super Output Area (MSOA). These were chosen because they are well established, durable, small enough to produce a range of results for almost every Local Authority (LA) / Unitary Authority (UA) and sufficiently large for the results to be reliable. MSOAs have an average population of 7,200 people, which generally produces sufficient numbers of cases to prevent disclosure of information about identifiable individuals. Hence there are relatively few indicators which are suppressed.

As well as data for MSOAs, the indicators are mostly provided for the following higher geographies: county districts and unitary authorities, counties and England.

Indicators used in the Dataset

The datasets are intended to cover a range of issues, focused on underlying determinants of health and conditions which account for substantial numbers of preventable diseases and deaths.

They have been divided into domains covering different aspects of health needs:

• Our community

• Children's and adults' health and lifestyle

• Disease and poor health

• Life expectancy and causes of death

Intended Audience

The datasets are likely to be of interest to any organisation involved in needs assessment and commissioning of services for local populations, including local authorities, PCTs and the emerging clinical commissioning groups.

Updating the Datasets

The dataset will be updated regularly by Public Health England, most recently on 4 July 2013.

Go to the datasets




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