The Policy Readiness Tool is a self-administered questionnaire that can be used to assess a community or organization’s readiness for policy change. Included with the questionnaire is a series of strategies for working with communities or organizations at different stages of readiness for policy change and a resource list for additional information. The purpose of the Tool is to help advocates and policy developers encourage the adoption of healthy public policy within communities or organizations.

The Tool can be used by policy developers, advocates, community organizations, community members, municipalities or anyone interested in encouraging healthy public policy development.
A healthy public policy is any policy, such as a legislation, taxation, mandated education or fiscal incentive, which seeks to improve the health and wellness of the individuals, community or population that it impacts.1
The World Health Organization defines advocacy as a process of influencing outcomes, such as healthy public policy adoption. Policy advocacy, in particular, concentrates on public policy and resource allocation decisions at the system-level.2
The Policy Readiness Tool was developed with support from the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention (APCCP).3 The APCCP represents a range of practitioners, policy-makers, researchers and community organizations that have come together to coordinate efforts, generate evidence and advocate for policy change to reduce the rates of cancer and other chronic diseases in the province of Alberta, Canada.

For more information on the APCCP visit www.apccp.ca.

The Policy Readiness Tool was developed using Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory.4 First, we conducted a literature review to better understand the characteristics of different types of policy “adopters.” We then compiled these characteristics into a pilot Tool to assess a municipality’s readiness for policy change. The Tool was then tested with municipal representatives throughout Alberta.​ The Tool will continue to be evaluated by our team to assess its use in different policy environments.

Coupled with the Policy Readiness Tool are strategies that can be used to encourage the development of healthy public policy. These strategies were collected through interviews with members of the APCCP’s Provincial Advisory Group, a diverse and intersectoral group with significant expertise in the use of policy to build healthier communities. Provincial Advisory Group members were asked about strategies that they use in their work with municipalities at different stages of readiness for policy change. Following the interviews, these strategies were summarized and grouped into themes to accompany the Policy Readiness Tool. A list of resources has also been provided for those looking for more information about policy development strategies.

The Policy Readiness Tool was designed to help encourage policy change in support of cancer and chronic disease prevention, but it also applies to the development of healthy public policy more generally (e.g., injury prevention). While the Tool was created with municipalities in mind, it may also be used with other types of governing bodies (e.g., community groups, organizations, school boards) to encourage policy change.

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REFERENCES

  1. Kemm, J. (2009). Health Impact Assessment: A Tool for Healthy Public Policy. Health Promotion International, 16 (1), 79-85; Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. (2009). Environmental Scan of Primary Prevention Activities in Canada: Part 1 – Policies and Legislation. Retrieved from http://www.partnershipagainstcancer.ca/resources-publications/primary-prevention/healthy-public-policy.
  2. World Health Organization. (n.d.).What is advocacy for Policy Change. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/tobacco/research/advocacy/en/.
  3. Previously known as the Alberta Policy Coalition for Cancer Prevention, the name changed to Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention on October 1, 2011.
  4. Everett M. Rogers. (2003). Diffusions of Innovations Theory (5th ed). New York: Free Press.