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Organizational level indicators to address health equity work in local public health agencies: A scoping review

Katherine Salter, Rosana Salvaterra, Deborah Antonello, Benita E. Cohen, Anita Kothari, Marlene Janzen LeBer, Suzanne LeMieux, Kathy Moran, Katherine Rizzi, Jordan Robson, Caroline Wai


OBJECTIVE: To determine what organizational level indicators exist that could be used by local Ontario public health agencies to monitor and guide their progress in addressing health equity.

METHOD: This scoping review employed Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) six-stage framework. Multiple online databases and grey literature sources were searched using a comprehensive strategy. Studies were included if they described or used indicators to assess an organization’s health equity activity. Abstracted indicator descriptions were classified using the roles for public health action identified by the Canadian National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH). Health equity experts participated in a consultation phase to examine items extracted from the literature.

SYNTHESIS: Eighteen peer-reviewed studies and 30 grey literature reports were included. Abstracted indicators were considered for 1) relevance for organizational assessment, 2) ability to highlight equity-seeking populations, and 3) potential feasibility for application. Twenty-eight items formed the basis for consultation with 13 selected health equity experts. Items considered for retention were all noted to require significant clarification, definition and development. Those eliminated were often redundant or not an organizational level indicator.

CONCLUSION: Few evidence-based, validated indicators to monitor and guide progress to address health inequities at the level of the local public health organization were identified. There is a need for continued development of identified indicator items, including careful operationalization of concepts and establishing clear definitions for key terms.


Health equity; public health; organization; evaluation; review

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