Analysis

New Collaboration Supports Growth in the Field of Health Impact Assessment

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Health Impact Project and the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) announced a collaboration and a call for proposals to increase the number of health impact assessment (HIA) training opportunities offered in the United States. The venture will capitalize on the existing network of public health institutes and strengthen their ability to carry out HIAs.

“Health impact assessment is a fast-growing field, but a shortage of trained practitioners is holding it back,” said Aaron Wernham, M.D., M.S., director of the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Our work with the National Network of Public Health Institutes will help fill that gap, while also leveraging their network’s geographic diversity, scientific credibility and policy expertise.”  

An HIA is a type of study that helps policy makers identify the likely health impacts of a decision in another field, such as building a major roadway, planning for a city’s growth or developing a school curriculum. HIAs can help decision makers identify unintended health risks, reduce unnecessary costs, find practical solutions and leverage opportunities to improve the well being of the community in which the project or policy is proposed.

Public health institutes are independent organizations that address current and emerging health issues by partnering with state and local government agencies, working side by side with communities, the medical care delivery system and academia. NNPHI supports institutes in 29 states, several of which have developed considerable expertise with HIAs. NNPHI is now coordinating a group of these organizations with an interest in conducting HIAs to encourage networking and sharing of best practices and lessons learned. 

The collaboration between the Health Impact Project and NNPHI will increase the availability and geographic diversity of HIA training in the United States, as well as augment public health institutes’ capacity to carry out assessments. NNPHI will establish two new regional training centers, develop a new training curriculum and prepare staff from at least 10 public health institutes to conduct HIAs. The grant also includes funding for two additional competitive health impact assessment demonstration projects.

For more information about the growing field of HIA, the Health Impact Project has a map of HIA activity, which is searchable by location, sector and other criteria.

The Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, is a leading national initiative dedicated to promoting the use of health impact assessments in the United States. Learn more at www.healthimpactproject.org.

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