Population health status reporting: Applying an equity lens

A Summary of

National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2015). Equity-integrated population health status reporting: Action framework. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University.


The Equity-Integrated Population Health Status Reporting Action Framework aims to support the incorporation of health equity into population health status reporting (PHSR), with the goal of improving the ability to address the social determinants of health. The Framework describes the steps in traditional population health status reporting and brings an equity lens to the process. Ultimately, equity-integrated population health status reporting helps to determine where the biggest inequities lie and why, to identify where it is best to allocate resources and the effectiveness of interventions/actions in reducing inequity and increasing equity, and to set targets for advancing health equity.

The Action Framework was informed by three similar frameworks: The Community Toolbox, Chapter 3: Assessing Community Needs and Resources; the NCCMT’s An Introduction to Evidence-Informed Public Health and a Compendium of Critical Appraisal Tools for Public Health Practice; and The Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence: Guidelines for Developing a Population-Based Gender and Health Profile. The Action Framework was developed through consultation using a community collaborative approach.

The action framework includes:

  • a description of the roles and expected outcomes for public health actors, researchers and community stakeholders;
  • how to communicate, collaborate and apply a health equity values lens, including key questions to ask and examples of promising practices; and
  • seven steps to a population health status reporting process and examples of potential actions/promising practices for each.

The document concludes with examples of ways to apply the framework to your own practice and how to use it as a conversation starter. Readers are encouraged to examine the framework through the lens of their own role in the system and think about what they can do within their circle of influence.

Access the Method

Format of the Method




On-line Access



Using the Method

Time for Participation/Completion

Information not available

Additional Resources and/or Skills Needed for Implementation


Steps for Using Method/Tool

Each of the three components in the How section and the seven steps in the What section of the Action Framework includes a list of corresponding questions to consider and examples of potential actions/practices to take.

How: The Three Components of the PHSR Process and Potential Actions

Apply a health-equity-values lens:

  1. How do we ensure that we are thinking about the social, economic and political structures and systems that create these health inequities?
  2. How do we consider the types of collective action that can more fairly distribute resources for health (including power and money)?


  1. How do we invite people to be part of our team when we don’t know them?
  2. How do we build trust?
  3. How do we move to action?


  1. How do we make sure everyone knows what stage the process is at?
  2. How do we share our story so that others are inspired to join us?

What: The Seven Steps of the PHSR Process and Potential Actions


  1. Who needs to be part of the process?
  2. What are the key questions and issues/problems?
  3. In what ways are equity values integrated into our investigation questions?


  1. What is the best way to find the relevant research evidence?
  2. What indicators will help us answer the research question?
  3. What other data are available?
  4. Do we need to develop a plan to collect additional data?


  1. What are the data sources and the quality of the data?
  2. What limitations are inherent in the sources and data?
  3. Is there evidence available from other quantitative, qualitative or participatory research that can be used to complement the data?
  4. How do research approaches, data collection and analysis integrate health equity values?
  5. Do the various indicators adequately measure both assets and deficits?
  6. How well are population demographics disaggregated by geography, economic and social characteristics?

Synthesize & Adapt:

  1. How can we synthesize, adapt and integrate different types of evidence to paint a more complete picture of inequities?
  2. What recommendations can we make for practice based on the available evidence?
  3. How are health equity values integrated into our recommendations?
  4. How do the recommendations relate to the local context?


  1. Who is our audience and what is the best way to communicate what we have learned?


  1. How can we frame the findings so that they engage everyone?
  2. What is the best way to explore potential actions, spanning from community mobilization to policy development?
  3. How can we collaborate to implement these potential actions?


  1. How well did the PHSR process contribute to achieving our organizational goals for the report, where improved equity is included and integrated among those goals?
  2. In what ways did increased community capacity to take action on the social determinants of health and health equity result from the process?

Who is involved

The people using the Action Framework are those in the public health sector. This could include everyone from senior leaders, to medical health officers, to epidemiologists, to managers, to front-line staff.

Conditions for Use

Not specified

Evaluation of the Method


Information not available


Not applicable


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Methodological Rating

Not applicable

Development of the Method


National Collaborating Centres for Public Health
Website: http://www.nccph-ccnsp.ca/2/nccph.ccnsp

Method of Development

The Integrated-Equity Action Framework was the product of a collaborative learning project spearheaded by the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health between 2011 and 2013. The project involved consulting individuals such as managers, directors, researchers, epidemiologists and medical officers of health to identify the ways in which health equity could be effectively incorporated into PHSR. The result of this project, with reference to content from comparable documents, was a draft version of the Action Framework. The draft framework was then reviewed by National Collaborating Centres and public health stakeholders using a community collaborative approach.

Release Date


Contact Person/Source

National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health
St. Francis Xavier University
Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5
Phone: (902) 867-5406
Email: nccdh@stfx.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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