Health Promotion Planning and Action

Health promotion works best when there is a thoughtful planning and implementation process.

Getting Started

In the planning phase, you should:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Define the at-risk population
  3. Collect data

Identify the Problem

The planning process should begin by identifying the problem. In other words, what is the issue and what effect is it having on the community?

Ask these types of questions:

  • What's wrong?
  • What can be done about it?
  • Are there treatments or interventions available?
  • Is it preventable?
  • Who is most affected?
  • Are there disparities or inequities?
  • What are some underlying factors and root causes that must be considered and addressed?
  • Is the problem specific to a geographic area, age, culture, or other demographic?
  • What are the consequences if the problem is not addressed?
  • Who can you partner with to ensure the plan addresses the problem in a community-appropriate way (i.e., community-based agencies, community groups, health institutions, academic institutions, business community)
  • Who in the community is already working on this problem?

Define the At-Risk Population

Once the problem is identified, you should figure out who is at risk and why.

Ask these types of questions:

  • Where do they live?
  • What are the values, attitudes, beliefs, customs, and current behaviors that impact the problem (both positively and negatively)?
  • What is their level of awareness of the problem?
  • What are their values, attitudes, beliefs, habits, and current behaviors?
  • How and where do they get their health information?
  • What barriers to making the desired change do this population face?
  • How can we get members of this population involved in the process? Who are the change leaders in that community?

Collect Data

Once the problem and at-risk population have been identified, the next step is to learn as much as possible about the problem. Be sure to collect data and other information from a variety of reliable sources.

Reliable sources include:

  • Government agencies (federal, state, and local)
  • Health statistic portals (government and non-government)
  • Hospital community health assessments
  • Community partners, community groups, and community members interested in participating in the planning, implementation. and evaluation process

Note: Wikipedia, tweets, and personal websites or blogs are not reliable sources of data.



Action Plan

After completing the planning phase, it is time to put your plan into action. Remember, if you want to increase your chances for success and work toward health equity, then you must include members of the community you are focusing on in all aspects of the process.

Print or save this Action Planning template, developed by Health Resources in Action (HRiA), which can help you turn your vision into a concrete plan.

The template outlines seven elements that should be part of any action plan:

  1. Goal
  2. Objectives
  3. Strategies (or action steps)
  4. Partners/persons responsible
  5. Timeline
  6. Outcome indicators
  7. Monitoring/evaluation approach

Do your health promotion activities include other elements?

There is no right or wrong answer. Your plan may just address these seven key elements, or your population, partners, and/or goals may choose to add more.

Additional elements may include available resources, potential barriers, or expected challenges.

Your template might ask questions like:

  • What are you looking to improve?
  • What are you going to change to get there?
  • How will you measure your progress?
  • How will you build on the findings?

Don't forget to include a strategy for monitoring/evaluation to assess if your plan worked.

A quality improvement tool called Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) allows for a rapid quality improvement process. Its four steps include assessing/identifying areas for improvement (plan), selecting one small change you can implement quickly (do), monitoring the change for a specified time and reviewing the impact (study), and deciding whether to keep, modify, or abandon the change (act). This PDSA cycle can be repeated for multiple changes.


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