Health equity audit resources

A Summary of

Hamer, L., Jacobson R., Flowers, J., & Johnstone, F. (2003). Health equity audit made simple: A briefing for primary care trusts and local strategic partnerships. Retrieved from


Health equity audit made simple: A briefing for primary care trusts and local strategic partnerships provides an approach to gathering evidence on health inequities to inform planning decisions. The resources provided in this briefing include a self-assessment tool and a step-by-step guide to the process, which support public health professionals in using health equity audits.

This briefing is ideal to use when initiating the planning of health projects with community partners or other local stakeholders.

Health equity audits examine how fairly resources are distributed relative to the health needs of different groups. They serve to:

  • systematically review health inequalities and access to services for a community;
  • ensure actions to address health inequities are incorporated in planning decisions; and
  • evaluate the impact of actions on reducing inequities.

A related term, health equity impact assessment, analyzes a program or policy's impact on health inequities and/or disadvantaged populations (Haber, 2011). Health equity audits provide a systematic approach to identifying:

  • health inequities for a particular group or area;
  • issues with respect to provision and access to services; and
  • priorities for action to address health inequities.

Health equity audits serve to incorporate health equity into the planning of new programs and policies. For more equity resources, see NCCDH's Resource Library.

The NHS Health Development Agency and the Association of Public Health Observatories provide a suite of resources on health equity audits:

Access the Method

Format of the Method




On-line Access


Not Specified

Using the Method

Time for Participation/Completion

Information not available

Additional Resources and/or Skills Needed for Implementation

Not Specified

Steps for Using Method/Tool

The health equity audit cycle consists of these steps:

  • Agree on partners and issues
  • Create an equity profile — identify the gap
  • Agree on high-impact local action to narrow the gap
  • Agree on priorities for action
  • Secure changes in investment and service delivery
  • Review the progress and assess the impact

The document outlines these steps and provides example projects to illustrate the cycle. Further guidance is available in Health equity audit: A guide for the NHS.

Who is involved

A variety of individuals would be involved in conducting a health equity audit, including public health managers, epidemiologists and others to gather relevant data and evidence, and community stakeholders to prioritize issues and actions. It is ideal to conduct a health equity audit when initiating the planning of health projects with community partners or other local stakeholders.

Conditions for Use

Not specified

Evaluation of the Method


Information not available


Not applicable


Not applicable

Methodological Rating

Not applicable

Development of the Method


Lucy Hamer
Bobbie Jacobson
Julian Flowers
Fiona Johnstone

Method of Development

This briefing was developed as the first step in a suite of resources for conducting health equity audits, a requirement for NHS Planning and Priorities Framework. The principles outlined in this document are consistent with many priorities and goals set by the NHS and other government organizations in 2003.

Release Date


Contact Person/Source

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
71 High Holborn
London, UK

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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