Resources for health impact assessment

This section provides tools for undertaking health impact assessment and evaluation, and links to other resources.

Tools for health impact assessments

Integrating Health Impact Assessment in Urban Design and Planning: the Manukau Experience
This paper explores how a health impact assessment (HIA) process was used to forge closer links between health and urban design agendas in Manukau City. The case study reveals many common interests among public health and urban designers/planners, and also reveals how a public health-oriented approach was able to engage people across a range of sectors, along with Maori stakeholders, to influence long-term planning for a city centre.

A Guide to Health Impact Assessment – 2nd Edition
A Guide to Health Impact Assessment: A Policy Tool for New Zealand was prepared by the Public Health Advisory Committee (PHAC) to introduce health impact assessment (HIA) as a practical way to ensure that health and wellbeing are considered when policy is being developed in all sectors.

Whānau Ora Health Impact Assessment
The Whānau Ora Health Impact Assessment tool is a formal approach used to predict the potential health effects of a policy on Māori and their whānau. It pays particular attention to Māori involvement in the policy development process and articulates the role of the wider health determinants in influencing health and well-being outcomes.

A Guide to Health Impact Assessment: Guidelines for Public Health Services and resource management agencies and consent applicants
The Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991 brought about a major change to the way we manage our natural and physical resources such as air, water and land. We rely on such resources for our survival, health and wellbeing, and value them for their economic, social, cultural, aesthetic and amenity significance. It is important, therefore, that any decisions on the sustainable management of these resources should consider the effects on the environment and people of activities involving their use. The Act acknowledges that people and communities are part of the environment. Therefore, when resource management decisions must be made, consideration of the potential effects of activities on the environment should also include, amongst other things, the likelihood of effects on people’s health, safety and general wellbeing.

This guide was developed in 1995 for that purpose. It provides a framework and process which guides:

  • resource consent applicants on the type of health impact information they may need to include in their ‘assessment of effects on the environment’ report on their proposed activity
  • public health service providers and the public who prepare submissions on consent applications or on proposed resource management policies and plans
  • resource management consent authorities who have responsibilities under the RMA for making decisions in relation to the sustainable management of resources.

Since this guide was developed, the RMA has been amended many times. This guide has not been reviewed to incorporate these amendments.

Health Promotion and Sustainability through Environmental Design: A guide for planning
This document ‘Health Promotion and Sustainability Through Environmental Design’ (HPSTED) is a valuable resource for urban planners and designers, policy analysts, developers, and others involved in planning our urban environments.

HPSTED also provides a useful framework to help organisations work together on improving the health of our communities by enabling individuals to make positive lifestyle choices.

It is a tool for assessing the impact of planning policies and planning proposals on public health. These planning policies and planning proposals include:

  • Strategic plans
  • Area plans
  • Settlement plans

You use it at the policy level, strategic planning stage and if applicable, at the resource consents level. The quicker you act, the more opportunity you will have to influence the final development.

Integrated Recovery Planning Guide (v2 Revised June 2011)
Integrated planning involves taking an holistic approach to addressing the needs of communities in order to determine the most appropriate course of action. The Canterbury earthquake recovery process, although complex, presents a unique opportunity to work towards improving the health and well-being of the community.

This guide from Canterbury is intended to assist all groups involved in recovery planning. The scope of the guide is broad, aiming to integrate thinking across multiple perspectives and a range of disciplines.

The guide builds on existing work of the Canterbury District Health Board and the Christchurch City Council. Targeted questions aim to enhance constructive thinking and encourage innovation. It is designed to help us:

  • plan in ways that build stronger more sustainable social, environmental and economic outcomes
  • promote the health of all, and
  • keep sight of the shared vision for stronger, healthier and more resilient communities.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come
This publication from the New Zealand Public Health Advisory Committee (PHAC) encourages policy makers to carry out a health impact assessment (HIA) as a routine part of policy making. It discusses what health impacts are, the benefits of HIA, what the PHAC has learned from its work on HIA, describes some HIA case studies, and considers what is needed to make HIA a routine part of policy making in New Zealand.

Rural Proof Your Policy
Rural Proofing is a process for taking into account the circumstances and needs of the rural community (rural people and rural businesses) when developing and implementing policy. It recognises the importance of the rural community to New Zealand’s economy.

A New Way to Talk About the Social Determinants of Health
This work was done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation over the course of four years, and published in July 2010. A New Way to Talk About the Social Determinants of Health shares their answer to one primary question: How do we find a common language that will expand Americans’ views about what it means to be healthy – to include not just where health ends but also where it starts?

It also provides an overview of what was learned – which words, phrases and framing work and why – and a detailed description of the methodology.

The six ways to talk about social determinants of health given in the document are:

  1. health starts – long before illness – in our homes, schools and jobs
  2. all Americans should have the opportunity to make the choices that allow them to live a long, healthy life, regardless of their income, education or ethnic background
  3. your neighbourhood or job shouldn’t be hazardous to your health
  4. your opportunity for health starts long before you need medical care
  5. health begins where we live, learn, work and play
  6. the opportunity for health begins in our families, neighborhoods, schools and jobs.

Although the document is focused on the States, the lessons and suggestions provide a useful context for discussion of social determinants of health in New Zealand.

Rapid Appraisal Tool for Health Impact Assessment (2002)
This rapid appraisal tool (sometimes known as the RAT Tool) enables users to understand better the health impacts of a proposal and to apply this information in policy decision-making.

Mental Health Well-being Impact Assessment Toolkit
This new edition of the Mental Well-being Impact Assessment (MWIA) toolkit has been published by the National Mental Health Development Unit in partnership with the English National MWIA Collaborative.

The toolkit helps support national, regional and local services and systems across health, local government, the voluntary, community and private sector to embed mental well-being into their work. This version builds on the earlier MWIA Toolkit published in 2007.

Tools for evaluating health impact assessments

A Guide to reviewing published evidence for use in health impact assessment
The guide provides a step-by-step framework to assist practitioners in reviewing literature for use in a health impact assessment (HIA). It presents both essential components that must be included, even in a brief literature review, and additional elements that can be included when resources (including time and skills) permit, for more comprehensive literature reviews. The guide can be used for a new review, or to appraise the quality of an existing review. This work was undertaken by the London Health Observatory.

The HIA evaluation cookbook
This section of the WHO website draws together information about different HIA evaluation approaches that have been used, and different descriptions of what is required.

Effectiveness of health impact assessment. Scope and limitations of supporting decision-making in Europe
This book provides a detailed map of the use of HIA in the WHO European Region across a large range of sectors, including transport, environment, urban planning and agriculture, and at national, regional and local levels. It also reviews the implementation and institutionalization of HIA with specific focus on governance, financing, resource generation and delivery.

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