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Building organizational capacity for health equity action: A framework and assessment tool for public health – Summary report

This resource is available in English only.

Public health’s ability to address the social determinants of health (SDH) and health equity at a population level is complex and extends far beyond individual practitioner skills and knowledge. Recognizing this, Lambton Public Health developed a framework and assessment tool to identify key elements of public health organization-level capacity for action on health equity. 


The Conceptual framework for health equity action in public health (p. 11) describes both internal and external drivers that influence capacity for action on health equity at an organizational level. Internal drivers (p. 11-12) include leadership, formal and informal systems, resources, accountability, partnerships and governance structures. External drivers (p. 14) include policies, health threats, data, public interest, political will and “best evidence.”

The framework further explores how the internal drivers that influence how individuals take action play out within the broader organization, which functions within a dynamic and complex array of system level influences. For example, individual practitioner knowledge, skills and values are influenced by organizational processes and structures, including standards of practice, internal work culture and professional competencies. In turn, public policies, threats to health, epidemiological evidence, political will and public interest influence where organizations focus attention, which also framed how individuals can take action.

Assessment tool

As part of the same document, Lambton Public Health also created an assessment tool (p. 17) to support public health organizations as they identify existing components of organizational capacity and areas to be strengthened.

This resource includes checklists to identify elements of organizational capacity at the individual, organization and system levels, with the goal of developing “capacity-building action plans” in order to amplify action on health inequities.

A template for calculating and evaluating a team or department’s cumulative scores (p. 29) provides guidance in interpreting results and making recommendations for increasing capacity to address health equity.

Use this resource to

  • facilitate discussion with public health colleagues about organization level factors that influence practitioner action on health equity;
  • conduct an assessment of factors that currently exist and where there are gaps at the individual, organization, and system levels of the organization; and
  • develop an action plan to strengthen organizational capacity to take action on SDH and health equity.


Lambton Public Health. (2017). Building Organizational Capacity for Health Equity Action: A Framework and Assessment Tool for Public Health. Point Edward, ON; Lambton Public Health.

Related resources

Tags: Competencies & organizational standards , Leadership & capacity building, Public health unit / health authority, Public Health Organization, Document

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