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Design For Health

Tools for Conducting an HIA on a Comprehensive Plan

I’ve recently had a number of queries about how to conduct a health impact assessment on an existing comprehensive plan. This is a great thing to do because it can help prioritize changes in an update. How to conduct an HIA is a big topic, but fortunately there are a lot of resources available with more coming online over the next year.

One place to start is the set of Comprehensive Planning Checklists on the Design for Health web site: http://designforhealth.net/resources/legacy/checklists/. They are based on evidence–though there is stronger evidence for the “essential for health” sections than the “good for health” ones. Each question has a column that explicitly states which area of research it is based on and these are described more fully in online research summaries (see next point). These checklist are also broken into standard categories for comprehensive or general plans in the United States. Two other resources, highlighted in an earlier blog, may be useful: the Australian Healthy Urban Development Checklist and British Delivering Healthier Communities in London.

Research Summaries that form the basis of the DFH checklists that are available for free: http://designforhealth.net/resources/researchsummaries/. The current versions reperesent work up to about 2007 or 2008 and in fast developing areas–such as food–we’ll be preparing updates in the next year. For extra information in the interim you might look at the “pathways” section of HIA-CLIC http://www.hiaguide.org/sectors-and-causal-pathways/pathways.
Model of Downtown Tianjin in the
Tianjin planning museum.
Photo: Ann Forsyth.

For advice about what to do after you have used the checklist and done your evaluation, the Design for Health web site has Information Sheets linked to the research summary topics that have examples and cases:
http://designforhealth.net/resources/planningissues/

In addition, a course on Planning for Healthy Places with Health Impact Assessments by the American Planning Association in association with the National Association of County and City Health Officials, is also a good place to start: http://professional.captus.com/Planning/hia/default.aspx. It is currently being updated by a team including Christine Green and Kimberly Hodgson at APA, Nisha Botchwey from the University of Virginia, and myself, with advice from Dee Merriam of the CDC. The update will substantially expand the resources section so there will be lots more information than this brief note can provide.


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