Methods

Health impact assessment draws on diverse methodologies, including epidemiology, environmental impact assessment, risk analysis, spatial analysis and others.  Click on a topic for more information on how this methodology is used in health impact assessment.  Links to other websites for more in depth information are also provided.

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  • Knowing how many people live in a given area and their characteristics is critical for establishing a baseline understanding of who might be affected by a given project or policy and their current health risks and assets.  The U.S. Census Bureau collects various forms of data useful for describing the demographic characteristics and economic status of affected populations.  Besides... read more
  • Checklists are often used in HIA, particularly during the preliminary phases of HIA; helping to determine potential areas of significant impacts and the feasibility of an assessment during the screening phase, and outlining impact areas, available data and methods of analysis during the scoping phase.  They can be used to facilitate both expert and stakeholder feedback throughout the HIA... read more
  • Besides supporting ethical principles of open, democratic decision-making, community participation in HIA can serve a valuable utilitarian function as well.  By bringing in diverse viewpoints from technical experts and a range of stakeholders, community participation can help identify locally important concerns and health issues, and can test the results of the assessment against the local... read more
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  • Developing a logical framework is an essential step in the scoping process.  It illustrates the putative causal pathways and likely positive and negative health effects for the proposed program or policy.  Logic frameworks serve three primary purposes:Organize existing knowledgeGuide analysesCommunicate informationA logic framework for HIA represents multiple effect pathways for the... read more
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  • In the screening phase of HIA the HIA in consultation with stakeholders and experts sets out to determine whether an HIA for a given policy or project proposal is warranted and feasible.  All HIAs go through some type of screening process even if it is not formalized and documented.  Ideally, the screening process is transparent and documented so that all stakeholders can understand the... read more
  • Scoping establishes the foundation under which the health impact assessment is conducted; it is about designing and planning the HIA.  During the scoping phase the HIA team will identify key issues that should be considered in the HIA, the affected population(s) and the methods to be used in the assessment.  To ensure that the HIA addresses all relevant issues and to increase the... read more
  • During the assessment phase, evidence is gathered on the effects of the policy or program on health determinants and health outcomes.  Typically the only new data generated in health impact assessments is through qualitative data collection.  This may include focus groups, key informant interviews, participatory observation etc.  It is often not practical or necessary to generate... read more
  • The final phase of HIA is reporting and evaluation.  Not all HIAs are evaluated.  Once a report is produce, HIA teams often move on to different tasks.  Although competing priorities and the availability of funding may make it difficult to evaluate an HIA, this can provide valuable guidance for future HIAs, both for the HIA team that conducted the HIA and for others interested in... read more
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  • Profiling provides a broad picture of the relevant demographic and health-related factors in the population affected by a proposed policy or project.  Besides providing a baseline against which to measure potential health impacts, profiling helps identify particularly sensitive groups and disparities, and provides a context for interpreting the results of the assessment. Profiling in... read more
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  • Typically, the only new data generated in health impact assessments is through qualitative data collection.  This may include focus groups, key informant interviews, participatory observation, etc. It is often not practical or necessary to generate new quantitative data.  Existing data from the literature is often sufficient.  Systematic reviews of available research are an... read more
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