Policy readiness tool: Assessing a municipality's readiness for policy change

A Summary of

Nykiforuk, C.I.J., Atkey, K.M., Nieuwendyk, L.M., Raine, K.D., Reed, S. & Kyle, K. (2015). Policy Readiness Tool: Understanding a Municipality's Readiness for Policy Change and Strategies for Taking Action. Edmonton, AB: School of Public Health, University of Alberta.


The Policy Readiness Tool: Understanding a Municipality's Readiness for Policy Change and Strategies for Taking Action supports policy change at the municipal level. It was developed by Dr. Candace Nykiforuk and the Policy, Location and Access in Community Environments (PLACE) team in the School of Public Health, University of Alberta. The Policy Readiness Tool assesses a municipality's or organization's level of readiness for policy change, it also identifies strategies to support municipalities and organizations in policy initiatives specific to their level of readiness.

The Policy Readiness Tool was developed using Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation Theory. The toolkit includes resources to help with the policy change process, including:

  • Questionnaire for Assessing Policy Readiness
  • Key Strategies to Gain Support for Healthy Public Policy (targeted to level of readiness)

The toolkit is available online (http://policyreadinesstool.com/). The website features other resources and includes:

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

The Policy Readiness Tool is a questionnaire that assesses municipalities and organizations with respect to their level of readiness to engage in policy change. Municipalities and organizations are classified as one of the following in terms of readiness for policy change:

  • innovator
  • majority
  • late adopter

For each level of readiness, key strategies and resources are identified to support policy change.

1. Innovator municipalities and organizations:

  • provide supportive evidence
  • frame the issue to appeal to the municipality or organization
  • build relationships with champions from the municipality or organization
  • generate decision-maker support
  • raise public awareness about the issue

2. Majority municipalities or organizations:

  • provide evidence and outline public opinion
  • frame the issue from the majority perspective
  • engage and mobilize the community to take action on the issue
  • build relationships and maintain momentum
  • provide tools and incentives for policy adoption

3. Late adopter municipalities or organizations:

  • educate decision-makers about the issue
  • provide evidence to illustrate benefits of policy change relative to costs
  • build strategic relationships with key community members
  • understand and address unique barriers of the municipality or organization

Who is involved

Anyone interested in healthy public policy development could use this tool, including policy developers, advocates, community organizations, non-profit organizations, government, community members and researchers.

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


C.I.J. Nykiforuk
K.M. Atkey
L.M. Nieuwendyk
K.D. Raine
S. Reed
K. Kyle

Method of Development

The Policy Readiness Tool was developed with support from the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention (APCCP). The Tool was developed by: performing a literature review collecting and coding health-related municipal bylaws to validate constructs to assess a municipality's readiness for policy change pilot testing the tool through structured interviews with municipal representatives determining readiness-specific strategies for influencing policy change through semi-structured interviews with policy developers and advocates

Release Date


Contact Person/Source

Candace Nykiforuk
School of Public Health, University of Alberta
Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention
Phone: (780) 492-4109
Fax: (780) 492-9579
Email: candace.nykiforuk@ualberta.ca

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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