HIA is a combination of procedures, methods, and tools by which a policy, program, or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of a population, and the distribution of those effects within the population.
HIA is a developing approach that can help to identify the potential health impacts of a proposal on a population prior to its implementation. Its primary output is an evidence-based evaluation geared to assist decision-makers in developing policies that promote health and health equity.
Strengths of HIA
- Policy, program, and project proposals are often short-sighted and do not take into consideration potential long-term impacts. HIAs take into consideration both short-term, immediate impacts, as well as long-term impacts.
- The HIA process links public health issues to policy, program, and project decisions that fall outside of the traditional public health arenas, such as housing, education economic development, transportation, land use planning, etc.
HIA serves as an umbrella that encompasses different approaches: rapid health impact assessment, health impact analysis, and health impact review. These approaches are differentiated by the availability of time and resources.
- Rapid Health Impact Appraisal is a systematic assessment of the health impact of a policy, program, or project by a number of experts, decision-makers and representatives of those potentially affected by the proposed policy. This appraisal occurs without a great deal of resources and rather quickly.
- Health Impact Review is aimed at creating a convincing summary estimation of a policy, program, or project’s most significant impacts on health, without necessarily trying to disentangle the precise impact of the various parts of the policy, program, and project. It is based largely on a review of earlier published analyses of similar policies. As in the rapid health impact analysis, expert panels and other methods of reviewing the available informed assessments of the policy proposal are used.
- Health Impact Analysis involves an in-depth examination of a policy, program, or project in regard to its potential impact on health. Opportunities for adjusting the policy, program, or project to ensure a more positive impact on health are considered. The resources and time needed for implementation are necessarily greater than those for a rapid appraisal and impact review.
• Democracy • Equity • Sustainable Development • Ethical Use of Evidence
European Centre for Health Policy, WHO Regional Office for Europe. (1999) Gotherburg Consensus Paper. Health impact assessment: main concepts and suggested approach. Brussels: WHO
World Health Organization - HIA Values