Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about HEIA
Use the insights you have gained from the tool to reduce unintended negative impacts and maximize positive impacts. Develop processes to ensure the integration of identified 1) mitigation strategies, 2) success measurement strategies and 3) results dissemination strategies into the project rollout.
Doing a HEIA can help you identify potential unintended health impacts of policies on vulnerable or marginalized groups within the general population. It offers a systematic approach for assessing the potential impact your policy may have on each vulnerable population that may exist within your jurisdiction. Moreover, the HEIA provides a strong framework for examining whether policies are on the whole taking advantage of available opportunities to improve equity, or whether they may potentially result in widening the health disparities between vulnerable and marginalized populations and the general population.
HEIA also helps you devise a strategy for mitigating or eliminating unintended negative impacts while maximizing positive impacts. HEIA can also raise awareness about health equity, facilitate public input in policy making, and address policy-making requirements such as ensuring equitability and harm prevention.
Completing the HEIA based on assumptions rather than evidence. The HEIA is a tool for analysis and it is as useful as the effort and information put into it. The more comprehensive one is in the completion of the tool, the more informative it can be. It is both useful and important to consider a broad range of evidence including statistical data, consultations with key stakeholders, research or grey literature, or field evidence. Evidence should be weighted based on its strength and quality.
Getting stuck in "paralysis by analysis." Even if you do not have a full range on evidence on all issues, you may still be able to move forward and develop mitigation strategies based on the information you do have. You can then seek resources to gather stronger evidence, and, as your project moves forward, monitor the results and revisit your HEIA later in the project.
Initiating the HEIA late in the planning and development of a new policy, program or initiative. The HEIA is most effective when used as early as possible to enable adjustments to the policy, program, or initiative before opportunities for change become more limited.
Completing the HEIA and then filing it away. The HEIA is meant to be a tool for analysis and change to support health equity
While the HEIA is a relatively new tool, the similar Health Impact Assessment (HIA) has been used extensitvely throughout the world. An evaluation was conducted on HIAs conducted as part of the developmental process of the Mayor of London's Transportation, Economic Development, Air Quality, Bio-Diversity and Municipal Waste Management Strategies in the UK. The results of this evaluation suggested that the HIA process led to greater consultation with a wider range of stakeholders during the policy development processes; increased awareness of the social determinants of health and of the health impacts of policy; increased relationships with diverse participants. At the time this evaluation was written, it was too early to tell whether the recommendations had been implemented and whether these had effects improving health and wellbeing or reducing health inequalities.