Reviewing the literature

A literature review should be undertaken to find evidence which supports or refutes the assumptions made at the screening stage about the potential health impacts of the proposal.

The London Health Observatory has produced a guide to reviewing published evidence for use in Health Impact Assessment (HIA).

The following organisations may be useful starting points in a literature review as they collate health-related evidence on an increasing range of topics:

A number of journals and databases can be freely searched including the following:

  • The Cochrane Collaboration includes a collection of evidence-based health databases. Free subscription is available to anyone on the island of Ireland through the Health Research Board (HRB) in Ireland, and the Research and Development Office (Northern Ireland). The Cochrane Library includes a collection of systematic reviews, which provide appraisals of existing evidence on health impacts in a range of areas.  
  • The Campbell Collaboration includes a collection of evidence-based information on education, criminal justice and social welfare.
  • The British Medical Journal (BMJ) allows open access to all research articles while BMJ Public Health presents information within a more defined subject area.

The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) has also produced a series of health evidence reviews. To date, four publications have been developed in the areas of education, the built environment, employment and transport.