Health impact assessment

Health impact assessment:

Health impact assessment is a combination of procedures, methods and tools by which a policy, program, product, or service may be judged concerning its effects on the health of the population.

Reference: Modified definition (WHO Regional Office for Europe, 1999).

Health impact assessment is usually conducted at the local or regional level, and its primary purpose is to inform the development of policies and programs that will promote better health and reduce health inequalities (Taylor et al., 2003). When used effectively health impact assessment can draw upon a wide range of values and evidence and facilitate intersectoral partnerships and community participation for health promotion (Sukkumnoed and Al-Wahaibi, 2005). Health impact assessment considers both positive and negative impacts and can be used to identify new opportunities for health promotion. Systems for health impact assessment and the subsequent development of health promotion plans and policies are particularly important in the light of the economic and social changes being brought about by globalization. The issues that can be addressed in health impact assessments include the effects of international trade, changes in the regulatory controls that governments can use, access to new information and technologies, threats to the natural environment, and changes in lifestyles and social structures (Sukkumnoed and Al-Wahaibi, 2005).

Source: WHO Health Promotion Glossary: new terms. Smith BJ, Tang KC, Nutbeam D. Health Promot Int. 2006 Dec;21(4):340-5.