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Interested in how well your comprehensive plan supports the creation of a healthy and equitable community? The Healthy Comprehensive Plan Assessment Tool (HCPAT) can help you evaluate the strength of health-related policies.

To read more about the process of assessment, we recommend our Prepare to Assess Your Plan and Start to Assess Your Plan guides.

How it works

HCPAT is an evaluation tool that planners, public health professionals, and community advocates can use to assess the strength of health-related policies in their comprehensive plans. The evaluation covers evidence-based policies best practices in four key domains, which cover a range of topics.

  • Complete Streets: transit/pedestrian/bike-friendly, alternative transportation, vehicle miles traveled (VMT), traffic/trip reduction, transportation demand management (TDM), parking, injury prevention, and safe routes to school.
  • Complete Neighborhoods: smart growth, infill, transit-oriented-development (TOD), affordable housing, mixed-use development, mixed-income neighborhoods, parks, recreation, open space, limiting alcohol and tobacco access, public safety, and schools.
  • Healthy Food Systems: agricultural preservation, local food, urban farms and gardens, farmers’ markets, food retail outlets (including corner stores, supermarkets, and restaurants), public purchasing/procurement, and nutrition education.
  • Environmental Health: air, water, and soil pollution, inside and outside air quality, water quality, water access, stormwater, runoff, vehicle emissions, heat island, brownfields, soil contamination, noise pollution, climate change, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy efficiency, alternative energy, sustainability, and conservation.

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Who it's for

HCPAT was created with a variety of potential users in mind. Public agency staff such as health department officials, planners, or transportation engineers may wish to use HCPAT as part of an internal healthy community policy evaluation process. Or, community coalitions like food policy councils, childhood obesity task forces, or pedestrian and bicycle groups may wish to lead an evaluation as part of a strategy to engage and educate community stakeholders. We encourage communities to use HCPAT to catalyze and support multi-sector collaboration.

While HCPAT is designed to be as user-friendly as possible, it’s helpful to have a basic familiarity with built environment terms and concepts before jumping in. It’s also important that you’re prepared to conduct an evaluation before you begin. Make sure you’ve read our guides, Prepare to Assess Your Plan and Start to Assess Your Plan.

To learn more about comprehensive planning and health, check out ChangeLab Solutions’ planning resources or contact us.

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What you'll get

Upon completion of the evaluation, you will receive:

  • A downloadable plan report, which can be shared with community partners and decision-makers.
  • A guide to help you strengthen your plan.


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How to use the report

  • Assess early, mid-term, or adopted plans
  • Prioritize efforts to educate community members, planners, and policymakers
  • Write comment letters to elected officials about draft plans
  • Use the tool as a checklist for plan development
  • Include in Community Health Improvement Plans or Community Health Needs Assessments
  • Make the health case for policies to address low-scoring domains
  • Identify needs for capacity building in low-scoring areas
  • Assess policy gaps that could be tied to new funding opportunities
  • Encourage staff to consider a Health in All Policies approach
  • Introduce a new framework for local health planning efforts
  • Compare a community with others
  • Highlight planning and advocacy successes reflected in high-scoring policy areas
  • Engage and educate local elected officials around public health and built environment issues
  • Target improvements in future plan updates
  • Identify opportunities to advance health equity in the community

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Contact us for assistance using the HCPAT to analyze multiple plans across a city, state, or region, or if you have questions about specific policy strategies.