Updated: Aug 29
Health Impact Assessment is a new Community Commons Space—a content library powered by the Community Commons Knowledgebase and hosted by IP3. This Space offers a collection of health impact assessments, guides, and research to support communities, agencies, and other organizations in taking action to improve public health.
Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) are often conducted to evaluate the potential effects of a specific plan, project, or policy before it is built or implemented and provide practical recommendations to increase positive health effects and minimize negative health effects. HIA results are often applicable to a broad array of policies, programs, plans, and projects. Conducting a formal HIA can be costly; when possible, it’s helpful to research HIAs already done by others, and to glean key takeaways from their work and research.
This new Space simplifies the process of researching existing HIAs, so policymakers and community organizers can maximize resources by building on others’ work, and move more quickly into implementation.
The Space helps policymakers better-consider health and well-being outcomes when making decisions and community investments across sectors, such as housing, planning, education, and community development. There are several common challenges to integrating HIAs or health information into your work, including: merging data from multiple sources, visualizing information, and accessing information about existing HIAs. This single resource has the capacity to fulfill requirements of potential users across all sectors, as well as increase the use and value of HIA across sectors, and in turn, improve population health.
What is HIA?
Health impact assessment (HIA) is a structured, yet flexible process that brings together evidence/data, public health expertise, and stakeholder input to identify the potential health effects of a proposed policy, plan, or investment. HIAs will often provide recommendations for minimizing risks and capitalizing on opportunities to improve health with regard to the policy, plan or investment at hand.
Why is HIA important?
Community health and well-being are impacted by each and every community initiative—planning, development, housing, education, transportation, and more—even when the work is not implicitly “health related”. There is opportunity for improving (and worsening) well-being through any community investment, so it’s important to assess the potential impact on health and well-being of a proposed investment or policy before moving forward. Health impact assessment is a key strategy that supports organizations and governments to identify health-promoting policies and practices, and to integrate them into their work, so that health becomes a key component in all community decision making.
How can people access the Health Impact Assessment toolkit and get started?
You can find the new HIA Space here! HIA occurs within a decision-making process. For example, when a local or state government is considering adopting a particular policy or investing in new infrastructure, the HIA arms decision-makers and stakeholders with evidence around how the policy or project will affect community health and provides recommendations for improving health and/or minimizing negative health impacts. In this respect, HIAs promote better-informed decisions, and when acted upon, produce better health and well-being outcomes.
Benefits of HIAs in decision-making
Readily adapts to a variety of contexts and sectors
Infuses public health data and evidence into public decision-making
Fosters multi-solving solutions and cross-sector collaboration
Builds community support and reduces opposition to a proposed project or policy
Builds civic muscle and belonging through engage community
Improves transparency and accountability in decision-making
Background and Support for the Project
The Health Impact Project’s cross-sector toolkit for health was originally developed through a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew) and contains resources that help communities, agencies, and other organizations take action to improve public health. Now, the Health Impact Assessment has a new home as a Community Commons Space, and the assessments are searchable by topics and resources on Community Commons, in addition to the seven Vital Conditions for Well-Being to help users find HIAs that are most relevant and applicable to their work. The creation of this Space was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project.
The creation of this Space was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, encourages local, state, and national organizations to include health considerations in policy decisions across multiple sectors, such as housing, transportation, and education. Research shows that the conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play influence their health, so the project also works to create cross-sector partnerships that include the expertise of health care and public health systems.