When in the Planning or Policy Process Does a Health Impact Assessment Fit?
Many people are interested in when to do an HIA. The simple answer is, it depends. There are a lot of different formats that may be used alone or in combination.
- Screening tools to see if an HIA is worth it
- Scoping tools to investigate the topics and dimensions worth exploring more
- Desktop or mini HIAs that can be done quickly in an office
- Rapid assessments or appraisals that re more participatory, drawing on expert and local knowledge (see an earlier post for some examples)
- Intermediate HIAs that are more comprehensive or multi-dimensional but not yet on a par with a full environmental impact assessment
- Full HIAs—a lot of work
- Integrated HIA that are plugged in to other processes
They may also be done prospectively—to figure out what may happen—or retrospectively to assess what did happen. This latter version is often looked down upon as not sufficiently proactive. However, it can be a great way to start a new planning process—looking at the current state of affairs to figure out what to do next. This can be a lot less threatening than assessing a draft plan or policy that people already invested in.
The attached diagram from a Design for Health training captures some of this variety.