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National Research Council (US) Committee on Health Impact Assessment. Improving Health in the United States: The Role of Health Impact Assessment. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.

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Improving Health in the United States: The Role of Health Impact Assessment.

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A growing body of evidence indicates that many factors outside the traditional health field affect public health. The idea that our health is determined only by our own behavior, choices, and genetics is no longer tenable. Many now recognize that substantial improvements in public health will occur only by ensuring that health considerations are factored into projects, programs, plans, and policies in non-health-related sectors, such as transportation, housing, agriculture, and education.

Health impact assessment (HIA) is a tool that can help decision-makers identify the public-health consequences of proposals that potentially affect health. Because of the potential that HIA offers to improve public health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the California Endowment, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked the National Research Council to develop a framework, terminology, and guidance for conducting HIA.

In this report, the Committee on Health Impact Assessment discusses the need for health-informed decision-making and policies and reviews the current practice of HIA. The committee provides a definition, framework, and criteria for HIA; discusses issues in and challenges to the development and practice of HIA; and closes with a discussion on structures and policies for promoting HIA. The committee notes that the framework provided in this report is not a reinvention of the field but a synthesis of guidance provided in other documents and publications. Thus, the reader will find many similarities between the committee’s descriptions and characterizations and those of other guides.

The present report has been reviewed in draft form by persons chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council Report Review Committee. The purpose of the independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards of objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following for their review of this report: Jason Corburn, University of California, Berkeley; William H. Dow, University of California, Berkeley; Jonathan C. Heller, Human Impact Partners; Murray Lee, Habitat Health Impact Consulting; Jonathan Levine, University of Michigan; Linda A. McCauley, Emory University; David O. Meltzer, University of Chicago; Keshia M. Pollack, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Lindsay Rosenfeld, Northeastern University; Alex Scott-Samuel, University of Liverpool; Nicholas C. Yost, SNR Denton; Lauren Zeise, California Environmental Protection Agency.

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of the report was overseen by the review coordinator, Joseph V. Rodricks, Environ, and the review monitor, Gilbert S. Omenn, University of Michigan Medical School. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of the report rests entirely with the committee and the institution.

The committee gratefully acknowledges the following for their presentations: Marice Ashe, Public Health Law and Policy; John Balbus, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Ronald Bass, ICF International; Larry Cohen, Prevention Institute; Andrew Dannenberg, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Paul Farmer, American Planning Association; Ed Fogels, Alaska Department of Natural Resources; Robert Gould, Partnership for Prevention; Ralph Keeney, Duke University; Jenelle Krishnamoorthy, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Angelo Logan, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice; April Marchese, U.S. Department of Transportation; John Norquist, Congress for the New Urbanism; Linda Rudolph, California Department of Public Health; Pamela Russo, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and Terry Williams, Tulalip Natural Resources Treaty Rights Office.

The committee is also grateful for the assistance of the National Research Council staff in preparing this report. Staff members who contributed to the effort are Ellen Mantus, project director; Heidi Murray-Smith, program officer; Keri Schaffer, research associate; James Reisa, director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology; Norman Grossblatt, senior editor; Mirsada Karalic-Loncarevic, manager, Technical Information Center; Radiah Rose, manager, editorial projects; and Panola Golson, program associate.

I would especially like to thank the members of the committee for their efforts throughout the development of this report.

Richard J. Jackson, Chair

Committee on Health Impact Assessment

Copyright © 2011, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK83539


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