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Learning Together: A guide to assessment tools for organizational health equity capacity

Cette ressource est également disponible en français.

The guide is a part of a series of knowledge products to be written to support the Organizational Capacity Initiative (OCI), which is the second iteration of the NCCDH’s Learning Together series. The first Learning Together series offered resources related to population health status reporting and was released in 2012.

This guide to assessment tools for organizational health equity capacity describes tools to assess capacity to help public health organizations select a tool (or elements of tools) that best fits their own organizational context. 

It is based on a literature scan and learning circle process that includes members and organizations with expertise in this area, specifically including those that have worked to develop organizational capacity for Indigenous cultural safety.

Tools were assessed for inclusion in this guide according to the two broad criteria of general practicality and applicability to Canadian public health work. We also considered themes related to health equity and the social determinants of health.

Criteria for tool selection

Nine tools were selected for inclusion and are summarized according to the following criteria:

  • What is the purpose of the tool?
  • Definition of (equity) health
  • Focus on the social determinants of health
  • For whom is the tool designed?
  • What is being assessed?
  • What does the tool say about use of the findings?
  • How/where has the tool been applied?

With regard to successful organizational assessments, the following supports were identified as being necessary for health equity action:

  • Clear organizational readiness
  • Strong organizational leadership
  • Appropriate resource allocation
  • Meaningful participation across all levels of the organization
  • Opportunities for intersectoral collaboration
  • Adequate practitioner competence


Use this resource to: 

  • establish a baseline for health equity capacity of your organization;
  • use your established baseline to measure progress of implemented change in future evaluations;
  • identify elements of organizational capacity to be improved;
  • incorporate changes deemed necessary into strategic and operational planning; and
  • build cohesiveness within your team through conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches to strengthening organization-level capacity for health equity action.


View other resources from our Organizational Capacity Initiative.


Related resources

Learning pathways for public health middle managers (2018)

The Path Taken: Developing organizational capacity for improving health equity in four Ontario health units (2015)

Public health leadership for action on health equity: A literature review (2018)

A conceptual framework of organizational capacity for public health equity action (OC-PHEA) (2013)

Building organizational capacity for health equity action: A framework and assessment tool for public health – Summary report (2017)


National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2020). A Guide to Assessment Tools for Organizational Health Equity Capacity. Antigonish, NS: NCCDH, St. Francis Xavier University.

Tags: Competencies & organizational standards, Methods & tools, Organizational capacity, Assess and report, Document, Report / Document, Learning Together