Health Impact Assessments (HIA)

A Health Impact Assessment is a combination of procedures, methods and tools that systematically judges the potential, and sometimes unintended, effects of a project, plan, program or environmental intervention on the health of a population and the distribution of those effects within the population.  HIA identifies appropriate actions to manage those effects.

What is a Health Impact Assessment (HIA)?

A HIA is a practical approach for collaboration between health and other sectors, translating public health research into predictions and informing strategies that policy makers can use to ensure that new public decisions contribute to healthier communities.  HIAs outline opportunities to maximize health gains, minimize adverse effects and improve health for everyone in the affected community.  The process views health from a broad perspective and addresses social determinants of health while predicting how proposed projects, plans, programs and environmental interventions – such as those related to housing, employment, transportation,  education and incarceration – affect health outcomes and inequities.

What work has been done with HIAs in South Carolina?

IMPH is leading the movement to build capacity to apply this tool to provide evidence-based information to inform policy and decision-making.

In March of 2012, IMPH was selected for one of two $20,000 grants by the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) with support from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, to conduct South Carolina’s first comprehensive HIA.

IMPH worked with the City of Greenville to conduct an HIA on the potential effects of expansion and/or addition of parks, green space and trails in Greenville’s west side.  The HIA contributed evidence-based information to the city’s decision-making for a larger planning initiative, “Connections for Sustainability: Linking Greenville’s Neighborhoods to Jobs and Open Space,” by providing information on the relationship between health and other city planning considerations.  This project began in late spring of 2012 and concluded in the beginning of 2013.  The full report and executive summary of “A Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of Park, Trail and Green Space Planning in the West Side of Greenville, South Carolina” can be found here.

IMPH’s work with HIAs began when the organization was contracted by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to manage a project funded by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO) to support capacity building for HIAs in South Carolina.

As part of the development of capacity to implement HIAs in South Carolina, IMPH convened partners in Spartanburg to develop a case study HIA on the potential impact of a proposed road project in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 2011.  Click here to view the HIA of a Proposed “Road Diet” and Re-Striping Project on Daniel Morgan Avenue in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

IMPH also conducted a strategic and capacity planning process and garnered stakeholder input about how best to implement HIAs in South Carolina.  These perspectives were published in “A Report on the South Carolina Healthy Eating and Active Living Health Impact Assessment Capacity Building and Planning Project” in November 2011.

Please contact Maya Pack for more information on the Institute’s role in Health Impact Assessments.