Issues to consider when undertaking HIA

When considering conducting HIA on an identified proposal, it is necessary to consider the following:

How to conduct a HIA

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a flexible methodology and there are a range of methods and approaches to choose from. The choice of methods to use in a HIA is often determined by conditions such as:

  • the status and complexity of the policy, programme or project
  • locally determined health priorities and targets
  • the potential scale and severity of the impacts
  • the quality of the evidence base and availability of data
  • the time and opportunities available to influence the policy, programme or project
  • the support for HIA at regional and local level
  • the resources available to conduct the HIA

The first stage of the HIA process is identified as screening.  This can help determine if a HIA should be conducted on the proposal.  A screening tool has been developed and can be accessed here. Further information on the steps involved in conducting a HIA and access to the HIA guidance document produced by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) is available here.

When to conduct a HIA

HIA is usually conducted prospectively when a policy, programme or project is in its developmental stage and findings and recommendations can influence decision-making. Retrospective or concurrent HIAs are less common.

Stage:
  
Details:
 
 
 
Prospective
 

Ideally HIA should be carried out prospectively, i.e. when the proposal is beign developed, so that HIA recommendations have the potential to influence decisions being made.

 
 
 
Concurrent
 

Takes place while the policy, programme or project is being implemented. This can be particularly useful to inform a review process.  It overcomes the problems sometimes faced in prospective HIA in accesing detailed information about the proposal.

 
 
 
Retrospective
 

Carried out on a proposal that has already been implemented. This can be useful when a similar proposal is being planned to ascertain health impacts of the one already in existence. 

(Proposal incorporates policy, programme or project)

Who should conduct a HIA?

HIA is a multi-sectoral process and therefore a wide range of organisations, both inside and outside the health sector, should engage in the process.  

HIA is appropriate and relevant to work by the following organisations in Ireland:

  • Local councils;
  • Health boards;
  • Government departments;
  • Statutory agencies;
  • County development boards;
  • Local strategy partnerships;
  • Community/voluntary sector.

Organisations can become involved in HIA by either initiating the process or getting involved in the steering group.  Organisations interested in attending a HIA training course can find further information here.