Planning, land use, and transportation decisions have public health consequences. A health impact assessment (HIA) is a tool that helps planners and policy-makers objectively evaluate the potential health effects of a project or policy before it is built or implemented. An HIA helps bring public health issues to the attention of decision makers prior to policies being made so that planning solutions can be used to address public health problems.
HIAs are increasingly popular as communities, builders, and politicians weigh the health implications of policies and projects. Whether the policy is to require mandatory physical education classes in a middle school or a project to revitalize a shopping center, HIAs can shed light on potential health impacts.
This page contains several different resources related to HIAs, including:
- A six-part training course
- The Buford Highway Case Study
- Introductory Tools
- Links to additional resources
The course tools were created with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and through a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the American Planning Association (APA), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and the San Francisco Health Department (SFHD).
6 Modules of the HIA Presentation
- Introduction: This module provides a brief introduction to HIA including when it is appropriate to conduct an HIA, the purpose of and values guiding an HIA, the importance of community involvement, and how HIA compares to the Environmental Impact Assessment.
- Screening: This module describes the first step of the HIA process which is defining the project or policy being proposed, identifying potential health impacts, and determining if conducting an HIA would be beneficial to decision makers.
- Scoping: This module describes the step of scoping including determining the health impacts that can be addressed, collecting baseline data, and setting the HIA's geographical, temporal, and population parameters.
- Assessment: This module compares qualitative and quantitative methods for conducting an assessment, details potential information to collect during an assessment, and features a logic model and example assessment on the potential health impacts of a Walk-to-School Program.
- Reporting: This module discusses how to go about formulating recommendations and the best ways to report the findings of the assessment and these recommendations to various audiences including community members, decision makers, key partners outside public health, etc.
- Evaluation: This module describes the different benefits and challenges to each of the three types of evaluation involved with conducting an HIA including process, impact, and outcome evaluation.
Buford Highway Case Study
- Buford Highway Case Study: This is an exercise that corresponds with the HIA presentations and guides users through each step of the HIA process using the case of Buford Highway, a particularly dangerous highway for pedestrians in Atlanta, GA. This case study also has an answer key at the end for users.
- National Association of County and City Health Officials - HIA Quick Guide: This eight page guide gives a brief introduction to HIA, describes the purpose, benefits, and challenges of conducting an HIA, and provides a list of many additional resources to look at.
- International Association for Impact Assessments - HIA International Best Practice Principles: This four page guide describes the underpinning concepts and principles of conducting an HIA, discusses who does an HIA and the methods they use, and provides a glossary of terms.
- Use of Health Impact Assessment in the U.S. 27 Case Studies, 1999-2007: This article from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine summarizes the characteristics of 27 HIAs completed in the U.S. between 1999 and 2007 and may be useful for public health professionals and others considering conducting an HIA.
- The HIA Gateway: Managed by the West Midlands Public Health Observatory on behalf of the Association of Public Health Observatories, this is a great website for getting full-text PDF's of HIA reports, guides and evidence, and additional links. It contains a database of files that can be searched by type, level, topic, and location and contains other impact assessments such as environmental impacts and mental well-being impact assessments.
- HIA Clearinghouse Learning and Information Center (HIA-CLIC): Developed through the UCLA Health Impact Assessment Project supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this website is regularly updated with summaries and copies of completed HIAs, methods and resources for conducting HIAs, sector specific information and casual pathways to affect health, training opportunities, and current HIA legislation.
- World Health Organization Health Impact Assessment: This website provides good basic information, a list of HIA networks, tools and methods for conducting an HIA, HIA and policy making, and examples of HIA across sectors.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: This comprehensive website on designing and building healthy places contains a section on HIA with links to introductory documents, online courses, methodology, public policy development, and HIA research for practitioners.
- Human Impact Partners: This website has good answers to many commonly asked HIA questions as well as multiple HIA resources in a searchable library.
- International Association for Impact Assessment: This global network of impact assessment practitioners develops approaches and practices for integrated impact assessments and offers its members variety of publications. The website contains a list of conferences, networking opportunities, trainings, and publications that may be of interest to those conducting impact assessments.
- Health Impact Project: This collaboration of RWJF and The Pew Charitable Trusts provides HIA resources, including a map of all HIA's in the US, and funding opportunites.
- National Research Council Provides Guidance on Use of HIA: A report that offers concrete guidance for decision-makers on ways to identify and address the potential impact on health of proposed projects or policies in sectors outside of health and health care at the federal, state, tribal and local levels, including the private sector. The report provides a framework, terminology, and guidance for conducting a HIA on pending policy decision or project in a non-health field.