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Health Impact Assessments

Topics: Health Impact Assessment, Practices and Procedures

A health impact assessment (HIA) is a combination of procedures, methods, and tools that allow for the strategic evaluation and assessment of the health or social impacts of a policy, plan, or project. HIAs provide information to decision-makers and stakeholders about the intended and unintended consequences arising from an activity, and make recommendations to maximize positive and mitigate negative health impacts for affected populations. HIAs are not currently required by legislation in Canada; however federal Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) (Health Canada, 2004) and provincial Environmental Assessments (EA) are required by legislation for some projects.1 HIAs are different from other health assessments (e.g., Environmental Impact Assessments, Environmental Assessments, Community Health Assessments, Cost-Benefit Analysis) in that they consider both the unintended positive and negative consequences on health determinants and specific health-related outcomes (US CDC, 2016).

The resources listed here are intended to assist public health practitioners to:

  • Understand what an HIA is and why it is useful;
  • Outline the steps and provide tools to conduct an HIA;
  • Provide examples of how HIAs influence projects.


NCCEH Resources

Selected External Resources

  • Health impact assessment (World Health Organization, 2017)
    This webpage offers a wealth of HIA resources, from basic HIA information, tools and methods, HIA for policy change, HIA networks, to examples of HIAs across various sectors (e.g., agriculture, mining, tourism etc.).
  • Health impact assessment (US CDC, 2016)
    This webpage states what an HIA is, and provides multiple links to related HIA resources, such as an HIA toolkit specific to transportation; “stories from the field”; and different types of health assessments e.g. cost-benefit assessments.
  • Health impact assessment: a guide for the oil and gas industry (IPIECA, 2016)
    This guide highlights the purpose of conducting an HIA for the oil and gas industry, and outlines a six step HIA process.
  • Health impact assessment (HIA) of transportation and land use activities: guidebook and toolkit (MetroVancouver, 2015)
    This webpage includes downloadable PDF versions of both the HIA guidebook and toolkit. The guidebook provides a background and introduction to HIA, and some tools and resources. The toolkit provides checklists and questions for each step in the process; a tool to help complete an HIA terms of reference; to monitoring and evaluation.
  • Health impact assessment (National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy, 2015)
    This webpage provides information on the foundations of HIA, and its growing popularity nationally and internationally. Links on the page present numerous resources e.g., HIA basics; guides and tools such as a cost calculator, screening grid, and scoping tools; options for continuing education in HIA; upcoming HIA events; and various examples of HIAs from Canada and around the world.
  • Health in impact assessments: opportunities not to be missed (World Health Organization, 2014)
    This publication provides a balanced view on five different types of impact assessments (environmental, strategic environmental, social, sustainability, and health impact assessment). It uses four key questions to examine how these assessments are protecting human health, amongst other issues.
  • A guide to health impact assessment: a policy tool for New Zealand (Public Health Advisory Committee, 2005)
    This guide takes the reader through the process of conducting an HIA, including how to determine if an HIA is necessary; how to choose the appropriate level of HIA to conduct; tools to use during the screening phase; questions to ask to start the HIA scoping process; and what to do at the appraisal and reporting phase.
  • Canadian handbook on health impact assessment (Health Canada, 2004)
    This four volume handbook (hosted on the World Health Organization website) examines how to incorporate human health into environmental assessments, including criteria for conducting a HIA and examples of project impacts. The four volumes cover 1) The Basics; 2) Approaches and Decision-Making; 3) The Multidisciplinary Team; and 4) Health Impacts by Industry Sector.

Peer-Reviewed Articles


This list is not intended to be exhaustive. Omission of a resource does not preclude it from having value.

Last updatedNov 01, 2017