Despite growing awareness that social factors—such as education, income and the conditions where people live, learn, work and play—have powerful impacts on health, decisions about policies and programs that shape these factors are often made without considering their potential health consequences. Recognition of this problem has increased interest in an approach called Health Impact Assessment (HIA)–the systematic assessment of the health effects of implementing plans, policies and projects outside of the health sector. HIAs have the dual goal of helping stakeholders and policy-makers maximize health benefits and minimizing adverse health effects of a given project and compare it to alternate approaches.
This issue brief provides an overview of the HIA process, stakeholder involvement, examples of their use, and how they can influence policy.
This is one in a series of 12 issue briefs on the social determinants of health. The series began as a product of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America and continues as a part of the Foundation's Vulnerable Populations Portfolio.