About Best Practices

This section of the Portal provides a searchable list of evaluated community and population health interventions relevant to chronic disease prevention and health promotion. It was designed to help Canadian public health practitioners and decision makers identify suitable interventions that can be adapted and replicated to meet their needs.

Since it was originally launched in 2006, The Best Practice Interventions section of the Portal has been supported by the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention (CCDP) within the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Additional details about the Best Practice Interventions Section are provided below.

Purpose

The purpose of the Best Practices Intervention Section is to provide decision-makers with access to published information about proven best practices.

Intended audience and partners

Those who are involved in health planning and decision-making such as: members of interdisciplinary health planning teams, regional health authorities, provincial ministries of health, community organizations and facilities, district health councils, public health units and students.

New content and innovative interventions

Over the years content has expanded to include topics about chronic diseases and conditions, health promotion, behaviour-related risks, strategies, populations, determinants of health and innovative practices. Information is also provided on a variety of evaluation designs and settings (e.g. educational, community, etc.).

Recent additions to the intervention list have included interventions that focus on prevention of childhood obesity, mental health promotion and mental illness prevention, tobacco control, family violence prevention, injury and suicide prevention, healthy eating, oral health and alcohol misuse.

A special section on Innovative Interventions is the result of collaboration between PHAC’s Innovation Strategy (IS) and the Canadian Best Practices Initiative. It focuses on new ways of addressing public health issues (such as mental health promotion and achieving healthier weights) which are being tested in communities but are often under-represented in academic literature.

What is a best practice?

Best practices are interventions, programs/services, strategies, or policies which have demonstrated desired changes through the use of appropriate well documented research or evaluation methodologies. They have demonstrated, through multiple implementations, the ability to be replicated and the potential to be adapted and transferred. A best practice is one that is most suitable given the available evidence and particular situation or context.

In the context of population health / health promotion, such practices are used to demonstrate what works for enhancing the health status and health-related outcomes of individuals and communities, and to accumulate and apply knowledge about how and why they work in different situations and contexts.

It is important to note that the definition of best practices used by the Best Practice Interventions Section has evolved and expanded over the course of its development to include context as an important element. The detailed annotation template used by the Best Practices Portal attempts to capture ‘context’ of an intervention through description of the topic, population demographics, goals and objectives, developmental processes, strategies and activities, how it was implemented, evaluated and adapted. As an example, the Alberta Project Promoting Active Living and Healthy Eating in Schools (APPLE Schools), is a comprehensive school health intervention with facilitators placed in each school to implement strategies while addressing the unique needs and barriers to health promotion in the school environment. The intervention is fully described for how it engages all stakeholders, uses a variety of strategies and activities, has a specific implementation and evaluation plan for all locations, and is adaptable to new contexts including Aboriginal and rural populations.

Why use a best practice?

An evidence-based public health approach helps to ensure that our programs and decisions are scientifically sound and that our time is spent efficiently and productively when reviewing information about an issue or practice.

How to search for best practices

To access best practice interventions select the Interventions link on the left navigation bar and select Interventions-at-a-Glance or Interventions Search Centre. The search centre will prompt you to enter keywords, year of publication and will also allow you to limit your search by a variety of intervention characteristics. Click here to go directly to the search centre. Check the FAQs for more on the intervention list and how to use it.

Background documents

Click here to access a review of the methodology that was used to select and describe interventions in the Best Practice Interventions Section.