Public health planning toolkit

A Summary of

Sudbury & District Health Unit. (2015). The SDHU OPHS Evidence-Informed Planning Cycle: 2015 version. Sudbury, ON: Sudbury & District Health Unit.


Methods and tools that support public health decision making can improve an organization's ability to plan programs and services efficiently and systematically. Developed by the Sudbury & District Health Unit (SDHU), this resource provides a four-step method and an associated suite of tools for local program planning in support of the Ontario Public Health Standards (OPHS) (Sudbury District Health Unit, 2015).

There are two major sections in this toolkit:

1) The SDHU OPHS Evidence-Informed Planning Cycle details the four phases and underlying steps that make up the program planning process. The cycle promotes a systematic, equity-focused and evidence-informed approach to decision making. For example, the planning cycle, the Evidence-Informed Public Health (EIPH) model for translating research evidence into practice is integrated in the cycle (National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools, 2012).

2) The toolkit includes templates, tracking forms and resources to help individuals and groups in the planning process. The toolkit is linked to the steps of the cycle thereby providing explicit tools to carry out the planning cycle in practice.

Access the Tool

Format of the Tool


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Using the Tool

Time for Participation/Completion

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Additional Resources and/or Skills Needed for Implementation


Steps for Using Method/Tool

Tracking forms, worksheets and additional resources are provided for each of the following steps:

  1. Assessment
    1. Define the issue or problem
    2. Consider valuable evidence from a variety of sources
    3. Assess needs (include district offices)
    4. Identify target and priority populations
    5. Incorporate community engagement strategies
    6. Assess your options
    7. Consult with collaborating managers/teams
    8. Rely on public health expertise to integrate all relevant factors into any decision making
    9. Set priorities and make program decisions
  2. Plan
    1. Complete deliverables
  3. Implement
    1. Act on the evidence
    2. Deliver high-quality programs, activities, and services to our community
    3. Keep track of any barriers to implementation
    4. Document mid-year and year-end progress in the Activity Planning Template
  4. Evaluate
    1. Assess the effectiveness of your implementation efforts
    2. Conduct ongoing monitoring for a variety of activities to inform future programming
    3. Consider evaluating one activity per program, per planning cycle
    4. Compile any gaps, practice-based questions, and research priorities

Who is involved

Although intended for use within the Sudbury & District Health Unit, any public health unit would find this resource valuable to inform planning decisions. The SDHU OPHS Evidence-Informed Planning Cycle delineates the roles and responsibilities of staff and management in different planning steps.

Conditions for Use

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Evaluation of the Tool


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Methodological Rating

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Development of the Tool


Sudbury & District Health Unit

Method of Development

The development of the SDHU OPHS Evidence-Informed Planning Cycle was informed by an extensive review of local, national and international literature. This is the third version of the SDHU's planning tool. The original tool was named the OPHS Planning Path and was developed in response to the release of the Ontario Public Health Standards (OPHS) in 2008.

Release Date


Contact Person/Source

Sudbury & District Health Unit Resource Centre
Phone: (705) 522-9200, ext. 350

These summaries are written by the NCCMT to condense and to provide an overview of the resources listed in the Registry of Methods and Tools and to give suggestions for their use in a public health context. For more information on individual methods and tools included in the review, please consult the authors/developers of the original resources.

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