Health Impact Assessment

All the materials from our 2012 New England Health Impact Assessment Series are now posted on the HIA resources page.

The importance of considering health impacts in developing all types of policies and programs is now widely recognized. A new policy tool, the Health Impact Assessment (HIA), increasingly is being used across the country to help decision-makers in fields such as transportation, housing, workforce policy, education, and agriculture to understand and analyze those impacts.

HIAs identify health impacts before critical decisions are made, facilitate collaboration among policymakers and decision-makers in different fields, and ultimately can help improve the health of Americans. At its core, a HIA determines the likely health effects of a proposed action – such as a policy, rule, project, program, or other activity – and makes recommendations on how to address them.

HRiA uses a 6-step framework recommended by the National Academies of Sciences to capture the appropriate elements in order for a HIA to be successful.

  • Screening – establishes whether a HIA is needed and how it would be useful.
  • Scoping – identifies the elements that will be examined in the HIA, including the populations that would be affected; the health effects to be evaluated; research questions and plans to address them; data and methods to be used and alternatives to be assessed; the team that will conduct the HIA; and a plan for stakeholder participation throughout the process.
  • Assessment – describes the current health status of affected populations, and characterizes how each alternative under consideration would affect their health.
  • Recommendations – suggests actions or changes in a proposal to minimize its negative effects and maximize its positive effects.
  • Reporting – communicates findings and recommendations to the full range of stakeholders, including decision-makers, other policymakers and professionals, advocates, the media, and the public.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation – Tracks the impact of the HIA on the decision-making regarding the proposal and/or on the health of affected populations.
HRiA staff are trained in HIA methodology and are experienced in the HIA process. Typical partners can include multi-sector government agencies; hospitals and health care organizations; community-based organizations; university-based researchers; advocacy groups, and business and industry stakeholders. HRiA has developed several resources to help organizations that are considering a health impact assessment: