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

This resource is available in English only.

The conceptual framework for organizational capacity that this article presents is grounded in the experiences of Canadian public health equity champions. The authors conducted interviews with key informants and a review of the literature to identify the core elements of the framework and the factors that enable or constrain health equity action.

The framework has two key domains:

  1. the internal context, referring to dimensions within an organization that influence its capability to act, and
  2. enabling external environment, representing dimensions of the local community and broader systems that influence the public health organization’s capability to act.

Both internal and external domains are characterized by similar dimensions: shared values, demonstrated commitment and will, and a supportive infrastructure.

The authors argue that the framework identifies characteristics that together are necessary for public health to be fully functional as a societal driver toward the elimination of health inequities. 

Use this resource to

  • investigate what organizational characteristics underpin successful health equity initiatives
  • identify indicators of capacity within your organization
  • identify and address areas of weakness and barriers to implementing a health equity approach in your organization
  • reflect on how to monitor changes in organizational capacity over time


Cohen, B.E., Schultz, A., McGibbon, E., VanderPlaat, M., Bassett, R., GermAnn, K., Beanlands, H. and Fuga, L.A. (2013). Commentary: A conceptual framework of organizational capacity for public health equity action (OC-PHEA). Canadian Journal of Public Health, 104(3):262-266.

Tags: Report / Document

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