Cover of Improving Health in the United States

Improving Health in the United States

The Role of Health Impact Assessment


Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); .
ISBN-13: 978-0-309-21883-2ISBN-10: 0-309-21883-7
Copyright © 2011, National Academy of Sciences.


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.