212796 Health impact assessment A powerful tool for health-focused public policy

Monday, November 9, 2009: 8:45 AM

Aaron Wernham, MD, MS , Director, Health Impact Project, Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, DC
An ever-increasing body of research demonstrates the importance of socioeconomic and environmental conditions to health, health disparities, and community well-being. This knowledge presents a challenge that will shape our field in the coming decades: how can we promote a more wholistic approach to health policy, in which decision-makers in all sectors recognize and address the health implications of their decisions. The growing field of Health Impact Assessment (HIA) shows promise as a way to address this challenge. By uncovering previously unrecognized health issues, translating complex health data into practical information to inform policy-makers in other sectors, and taking into account the potential costs and benefits associated with a decision, HIA promotes policy decisions that are responsive to health concerns and priorities. This session will begin with a brief introduction to HIA. We will present a series of brief examples of HIAs completed in the U.S. to date, and highlight outcomes such as preventing displacement through protecting affordable housing; creating new zoning regulations responsive to built environment considerations; developing new environmental justice-based regulations within the environmental impact statement process; and promoting the consideration of health in proposed legislation such as a new law regulating paid sick days. We conclude with a discussion of an exciting new national program on HIA, which will support growth in the field and provide funding and technical assistance to organizations interested in using HIA to address active policy decisions in the U.S.

Learning Objectives:
Describe health impact assessment and its relevance to public health. Describe the roles that public health workers can play in using and promoting health impact assessment.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a public health professional with 5 years experience in the field of Health Impact Assessment.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.