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Below is your RCA Assignment. We've gathered resources to support your project.

  1. Read the assignment and determine a public health problem

  2. Explore the databases linked below to find peer reviewed articles on public health

  3. Explore the CDC's Health Equity Research Guide

  4. Explore the Health Topics section of the WHO

  5. Make a research appointment or ask a librarian for support.

  6. Good luck! You've got this.


Purpose: For this assignment, you will do a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to identify a public health problem and its contributing factors or “causes,” and then propose a solution/intervention. You will work on your solution/intervention in short assignment 3. The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with an evidence-based tool and technique that you can use to discover the root-causes of community level health problems and identify the appropriate solutions through engagement of community stakeholders and representatives.

An RCA is a tool that can be used by public health professionals, researchers, and health care professionals to help identify underlying causes of a health problem before trying to solve it. This technique is used worldwide to understand distal and proximal factors that can impact health, safety, and well-being of a population. When done effectively, an RCA helps identify factors that contribute to an underlying issue to put measures in place to address those issues before they become costly to fix and improve health outcomes. An RCA also provides a method for which a systems-based intervention can be designed rather than focusing solely on individual-level behavioral change (Sigh, Patel & Boster, 2023). You will use peer-reviewed sources to conduct an RCA. Detailed instructions for conducting an RCA are provided below.


Conducting an RCA

You can conduct an RCA using a fishbone diagram. A fishbone diagram is a tool that allows you to diagram and diagnose a public health problem and its contributing factors or “causes.”


1. Conduct an RCA using a fishbone diagram. First, you will need to identify a pressing public health problem in the US. A list is provided for you to pick from. Once you have identified the pressing public health problem you want to tackle, you will need to consult the literature to get a good understanding of the problem that you picked. You should identify at least two articles that focus on the problem. These two articles should be descriptive rather than analytical research studies. For example, you can look at the CDC or WHO website to get information on the pressing public health problem that you picked.

2. Using the fishbone diagram provided to you, write the pressing public health problem you want to tackle in the head of the fish. Once you have identified the public health problem you want to tackle, use peer-reviewed sources to list “causes” that contribute to the problem you have defined. Write at least five “causes” in the boxes on top of the branches from the main body of the fish. Use as many peer-reviewed sources as you will need for this step of the assignment. Please be sure that your “causes” represent all levels of the social ecological model of health (intrapersonal, interpersonal, organizational, environmental, and public policy factors).

3. Once you have identified the five contributing factors, ask “why does this happen?” and list the sub-causes in the lines branching off the contributing factors. The sub-causes should also be based on peer-reviewed sources. Write as many sub-causes as you find from your own research. Please be sure that your “sub-causes” represent all levels of the social ecological model of health.

Summarize the Health Problem

4. After completing your RCA, the next step would be for you to generate solutions/interventions that target the pressing public health concern that you have identified. You will work on the solutions/intervention in short assignment 3 (not in this assignment). To finish the first step of conducting an RCA, please summarize the pressing health problem you have chosen for this assignment as recognized by Healthy People 2030’s goal for the nation. Specifically, you will need to note how the pressing public health problem you identified fits within the Healthy People 2030 framework - is it a goal, Leading Health Indicator, etc. Use in-text citations as needed.

5. If the issue is not identified in Healthy People 2030, hypothesize about why this specific public health problem might have been excluded from Healthy People 2030. Include a discussion on which social determinants of health impact the pressing public health problem you selected.

6. List all the sources that you have consulted and used for this assignment in a work cited page at the end of this assignment document on a separate page. Your work cited page should be in APA format. A work cited page with less than 10 sources is considered incomplete.

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