What We Do

The Design for Health (DFH) project worked in four primary avenues: health informationhealth impact assessment toolsevents, and direct technical assistance. Each one drew on the research in the area of health and environments to provide evidence-based tools.

Resource Library: Health and Planning

The Resource Library section about health and planning includes a variety of resources sorted by topic and type. These include work on the DFH Web site and links to work done on health topics, such as the food environment, physical activity, environmental health, and social issues; as well as those resources traditionally linked the built environment, such as land use, transportation, and urban design. Highlights include.

  • accessible research summaries—the Key Questions series;
  • information on tools for solving practical planning issues—Planning Information Sheet series;
  • a series of planning-oriented health impact assessment tools in a variety of forms including a brief checklist, a participatory workshop, and a more detailed analytical workbook;
  • an innovative group of comprehensive-plan checklists that recommend ways to integrate health into comprehensive-plan elements;
  • online slideshows providing images for use in PowerPoints and reports; and
  • case studies of planning documents and processes incorporating health.

Health Impact Assessment

While there is interest in health impact assessment tools, few municipalities in the United States have used health impact assessment to examine community design. Building on experience in Europe, Australia, and Canada, we developed prototypical health impact assessment tools.  As of 2014, DFH’s health impact assessment tools have been adapted and updated as part of the Health and Places Initiative (HAPI) at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Events: Workshops

The Design for Health project provided two types of events:

  • Health impact assessment training workshops helped communities learn how to use health impact assessment tools. Design for Health conducted training at national conferences of the American Planning Association. In 2009 and 2010 Design For Health conducted training workshops in Minnesota for the state Department of Health funded by a grant from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
  • Phase I involved a series of workshops held in 2006 and 2007 that featured national and international experts. These events were attended by hundreds of participants on topics ranging from safety to transportation. These workshops offered a research-based and application-oriented discussion of health and urban form topics.

Direct Technical Assistance

From 2006 to 2008, nineteen municipalities received highly-targeted technical assistance tailored to the specific issues in each community.

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