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Community planning tool: Applying a health equity lens to program planning

Program planning to influence community and public health inequities is considered a core strategy to address the social determinants of health. Strong planning can help identify when a current program may both unintentionally worsen as well as help to reduce health inequities.

With this in mind, the Fraser Health Authority has developed this planning tool to support programs who are trying to address physical, social, mental, and emotional health in their communities.

Seven-step tool

The tool is organized into seven distinct steps of program planning and implementation to support the design of programs that address inequities. It is also designed to help tailor interventions to communities who need them the most.

The seven steps are as follows:

  1. Assess Inequities & Define Scope
  2. Identify & Assemble Partnerships
  3. Assess Community Capacity & Engage Community
  4. Select Approach to Change & Plan for Action
  5. Implement & Monitor
  6. Assess Your Progress
  7. Maintain Momentum

The tool can be used by individuals and teams, and includes:

  • worksheets to guide practitioners through each step;
  • a glossary of key terms; and
  • appendices that contain guidance on how to complete the various stages of each step in the process.

This tool will be useful for short and long-term program planning to address community needs and take action on health inequities. It is particularly relevant to community organizations, public health practitioners at frontline and management levels, and community partners.

Use this resource to:

adapt a program planning process to consider how to build on the strengths and capacity of groups who live with health inequities.
identify stakeholders, community resources and long-term structures necessary to do collaborative and sustained work on health equity; and
initiate discussion about how public health programs can unintentionally worsen health inequities and some of the ways to reduce that negative impact.

Related resources


Fraser Health. (2018). Community Planning Tool: Applying a Health Equity Lens to Program Planning. Surrey (BC): Fraser Health.

Tags: Community engagement, Methods & tools, Assess and report, Modify and orient interventions, Public Health Unit/Health Authority, Tool