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DHMHBlog > Posts > Is Your Public Health Program Sustainable?
August 06
Is Your Public Health Program Sustainable?

In the world of public health, there is no shortage of innovative programs led by dedicated people that aim to address issues that affect our health. But when grant funding runs out, what happens to an effort that may be supporting critical public health services? In addition to the challenges associated with improving and protecting health, public health programs must also face the challenge of sustainability.  

Now there's a tool that can help public health leaders think about and address sustainability. The tool aims to address “the small set of organizational and contextual factors that build the capacity for maintaining a public health program over time.”[1]  

The tool defines eight factors/domains that can contribute to the overall sustainability of a program. They are:

  • Political Support; 
  • Funding Stability; 
  • Partnerships; 
  • Organizational Capacity;
  • Program Evaluation; 
  • Program Adaptation; 
  • Communications; and 
  • Strategic Planning.  

The tool offers a way for different programs to assess their current capacity for sustainability across these domains.  The responses to the assessment will show the program’s strengths and weaknesses, and can then guide action planning for the program's future.[2]

The tool is called the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool, and can be found at  http://www.sustaintool.org/assess. It was created by researchers at the Center for Public Health Systems Science at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work – Washington University, St. Louis, MO. 

This tool is a resource that may be used by state and local public health programs as they think more strategically about sustainability.

This blog post was submitted byVan Don Williams II, intern, Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities


[1] Schell, Sarah F., Douglas A. Luke, Michael W. Schooley, Michael B. Elliott, Stephanie H. Herbers, Nancy B. Mueller, and Alicia C. Bunger. "Public Health Program Capacity for Sustainability: A New Framework." Implementation Science 8.15 (2013): n. pag. 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 June 2013.

 [2] http://sustaintool.org/sites/default/files/Sustainability%20Tool_w_scoring_1.pdf

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