Program Planning

Planning is an important part of developing a successful program. There are many resources that can assist you with the creation or enhancement of existing programs.

The Health Communication Unit (THCU) offers many excellent resources in the areas of planning, evaluation, sustainability and policy change. Planning is explored in detail in their Introduction to Health Promotion Planning workshop. See THCU Workshops and Events for more information.

THCU Online Health Program PlannerOnline Health Program Planner

The Health Communication Unit

Developed jointly by THCU and the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools, this resource helps organizations follow a 6-step approach to planning health promotion programs. Also included in the Learning Centre are other planning tools and resources, evidence to support planning decisions, THCU's  online planning workbook, and planning case studies.

The 6 steps are briefly described below:

Step 1: Preplanning and Project Management
In planning a health promotion project, the planner must manage a number of elements, including:

  • Meaningful participation of key stakeholders
  • Time
  • Money and other resources
  • Data-gathering and interpretation
  • Decision-making

Each of these elements must be managed throughout the remaining 5 steps.

Step 2: Situational Assessment
A situational assessment influences planning in significant ways — by examining the legal and political environment, stakeholders, the health needs of the population, the literature and previous evaluations, as well as the overall vision for the project. The phrase "situational assessment" is now used rather than the previous term "needs assessment." This is intentional. The new terminology is used as a way to avoid the common pitfall of only looking at problems and difficulties. Instead it encourages considering the strengths of and opportunities for individuals and communities. In a health promotion context, this also means looking at socio-environmental conditions and broader determinants of health.

Step 3: Identify Goals, Audiences and Objectives
Step 3 involves creating a hierarchy of goals and objectives. It is important to understand the relationships between the goals, audiences, and objectives to plan a good program.

Step 4: Develop Strategies, Activities and Resources
In this step, the task is to identify the activities that will achieve your objectives and determine what resources are required to implement the activities.

Step 5: Develop Indicators
Here, we take the time to develop measurable indicators associated with the overall goal, each objective and each strategy.

Step 6: Review the Program Plan
In step 6 we review our plan by putting it into a logic model and examining the logical relationships between goals, audiences, objectives, strategies, activities and resources.

For more information, see: Online Health Program Planner

Related Resources

CMHA Mental Health Promotion ToolkitMental Health Promotion Toolkit: A Practical Resource for Community Initiatives

Canadian Mental Health Association

Funded by Health Canada, the kit is a comprehensive guide for communities that wish to undertake mental health promotion initiatives. It contains everything anyone would need to know about implementing a mental health promotion program, including examples, strategies, tips and tools.

Getting to Outcomes: Promoting Accountability Through Methods and Tools for Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation

Rand Corporation

The Getting to Outcomes approach helps practitioners improve the accountability and quality of their programs. This approach was developed to address the gap between research and practice by building capacity at the individual practitioner and program levels (e.g., choosing evidence-based practices and planning, implementing, evaluating and sustaining effective practices).