Health equity audit resources

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:

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.

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.

We have provided the resources and links as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by McMaster University of any of the products, services or opinions of the external organizations, nor have the external organizations endorsed their resources and links as provided by McMaster University. McMaster University bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external sites.

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