Academic journal article Australian Health Review

A Framework for Place Based Health Planning

Academic journal article Australian Health Review

A Framework for Place Based Health Planning

Article excerpt


Place based health planning is an effective approach to health planning with enormous benefits including the use of local characteristics, organisations and partnerships to effectively and efficiently identify and prioritise needs, and develop and deliver programs and services. Despite its inherent advantages, place based health planning has not been extensively used by health professionals, neither has it been given adequate attention in the literature. This article provides a framework to guide and encourage health professionals to use place based health planning. The framework has three main parts, namely needs assessment, program planning and implementation, and covers most aspects of the identification of needs, and the development and delivery of programs and services to address those needs. The article also includes a proposed index of prioritisation to enable health professionals to prioritise needs and improve program and service provision.

Aust Health Rev 2005: 29(1): 30-36

PLACE BASED HEALTH PLANNING, also known as health planning for place, adopts a holistic approach involving local demographic, socioeconomic and environmental factors. Unlike more widely used population based planning, place based health planning involves the use of partnerships including local service providers and other private sector agencies, community groups, local, state/regional and national governments and their relevant agencies to develop and deliver health programs and services.

Place based health planning is an innovative approach to health planning. Indeed the importance of innovation has been noted by many researchers who have found that existing approaches have not been regularly successful.1,2 Place based health planning identifies and prioritises local health needs through the collaboration of local community groups and service providers with national public sector agencies to enhance the potential for success. This collaboration enhances the potential for success by improving the articulation of local health needs and the development of localised strategies and programs. In addition, planning for place enhances the sharing of vision, goals and ideas by the groups in the partnership, while the inclusion of relevant or key partners enhances the targeting of programs to the local population needs, although competing interests and conflicts could derail this.

Health is influenced by many factors outside of the health sector, including population characteristics such as size, composition, distribution and dynamics, education, employment, income and other socioeconomic characteristics, as well as the built and natural environments (climate, flora and fauna etc).3,4 An inherent advantage of place based health planning is that because it adopts a holistic but localised approach it is able to include information on most of the factors which impact on health. Local input into health planning, and especially the development and delivery of programs, has the potential to ensure that health plans and programs address the specific needs of the locality. This means that health plans, programs and services can be linguistically and culturally sensitive and appropriate for local conditions. In addition, place based health planning can draw upon the benefits inherent in population based planning by including local population characteristics, as well as the extent of internal and external migration.5

Local partnerships - an important component of place based planning

The establishment of local partnerships creates a sense of ownership at the local level and improves participation in the identification of needs and the development and delivery of programs to address them.6-8 This sense of ownership improves the contribution and willingness of partners to cooperate or collaborate effectively. In other words, local community groups and private and public sector agencies in those communities are usually motivated to contribute to the success of the plan mainly because they are part of, and own, the plan. …

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