Community Health Assessment & Health Improvement Planning: Assessment & Planning Models, Frameworks & Tools

Common Elements of Assessment and Planning Frameworks

Most assessment and planning frameworks include steps or phases that reflect the following actions, some of which may occur simultaneously:

  1. Organize and plan
  2. Engage the community
  3. Develop a goal or vision
  4. Conduct community health assessment(s)
  5. Prioritize health issues
  6. Develop community health improvement plan
  7. Implement and monitor community health improvement plan
  8. Evaluate process and outcomes

Differences Among Assessment & Planning Frameworks

Assessment and planning frameworks differ in various ways:

  • Types of data, recommended sources, and specific indicators for each (quantitative, qualitative, primary, secondary)
  • Which community groups are engaged and how
  • The sophistication of the model and the length of time that might be required to undertake the process
  • Whether the framework is broadly comprehensive or focuses more directly on certain kinds of data and issues, i.e., chronic disease or environmental health
  • The lead organization that the tool or framework is focused toward, i.e., hospital leadership or public health agency leadership

Most tools emphasize the importance of broad stakeholder and community engagement and can be used by any type of lead organization. Frameworks can also be blended to create a model that addresses your particular community’s needs. Note: The following list of planning models is not exhaustive but reflects some of the most well-defined resources and frequently used models.

Commonly Used Planning Models, Frameworks & Tools
Commonly Used Planning Models, Frameworks & Tools
Model Author, Date Released or Updated Brief Description
Association for Community Health Improvement, Community Health Assessment toolkit American Hospital Association, updated 2017
  • Toolkit for planning, leading, and using community health needs assessments
  • Provides nine-step assessment framework and practical guidance
Catholic Health Association Catholic Hospital Association, updated 2012
  • For hospital staff who conduct or oversee community health needs assessments and planning community benefit programs
  • Focus on collaboration, building on existing resources, and using public health data
Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) National Association of County and City Health Officials and CDC, 2001
  • Framework for community health improvement planning at the local level
  • Strong emphasis on community engagement and collaboration for system-level planning after identifying assets and needs
State Health Improvement Planning (SHIP) Guidance and Resources Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and CDC, 2011
  • Framework for state health improvement planning
  • Emphasis on community engagement and collaboration for system-level planning after identifying assets and needs
Focused Planning Models, Frameworks & Tools
Focused Planning Models, Frameworks & Tools
Model Author, Date Released or Updated Brief Description
Community Health Assessment and Group Evaluation (CHANGE) [PDF – 5.12MB] CDC, updated 2010
  • Tool for all communities interested in creating social and built environments that support healthy living
  • Focus on gathering and organizing data on community assets to prioritize needs for policy changes
  • Users complete an action plan
Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE-EH) National Association of County and City Health Officials and CDC, 2000
  • Tasks to investigate the relationships among what they value, how their local environment impacts their health, and next steps
  • For local health agencies to create a community-based environmental health assessment

More Tools for the Assessment & Improvement Process

CDC Evaluation Framework
Within CDC’s Office of the Associate Director for Program, the Program Evaluation Unit sets standards for agency-wide evaluation; delivers technical assistance and resources to enhance evaluation efforts; and supports evaluation capacity-building across CDC programs.

Community Toolbox
Free, practical information on essential skills for building healthy communities. Outlines a dynamic and iterative process with six phases, and related competencies, associated with facilitating community change and improvement.

Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide)
Free resource to help you choose programs and policies to improve health and prevent disease in your community

Healthy People 2030
Healthy People provides 10-year, measurable public health objectives and tools to help track progress toward achieving them. Healthy People identifies public health priorities to help individuals, organizations, and communities across the United States improve health and well-being. Healthy People is frequently used within community health assessment and health improvement planning processes.

Institute of Medicine Community Health Improvement Process
Framework for promoting community health which may also be used as a model for creating healthy communities. Comprehensive, community-based view of health and starts with an inclusive, participatory, community-based coalition or coordinating group.
Institute of Medicine. Improving Health in the Community: A Role for Performance Monitoring. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1997.

National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Resource Center for Community Health Assessments and Community Health Improvement Plans
Practical, customizable tools and resources for local health departments in a central and publicly accessible location. Supports local health departments and their partners as they complete community health improvement processes, including the conduct of a community health assessment and the development of a community health improvement plan.

National Public Health Performance Standards (NPHPS)
National partnership initiative that maintains performance standards and assessment tools for state and local public health systems and for public health governing entities. This is often a component of a state or local health improvement process.

Principles of Community Engagement
Provides public health professionals, health-care providers, researchers, and community-based leaders and organizations with both a science base and practical guidance for engaging partners in projects that may affect them.