Health Impact Assessment (HIA)

Welcome to the Institute of Public Health’s dedicated section on Health Impact Assessment (HIA).  

On 2 November 2021, the Institute launched the fourth edition of HIA Guidance for Ireland and Northern Ireland, incorporating the most recent developments and best practice in the field. 

The suite of documents are available below.

  • HIA is used to help understand how a proposed new law, policy, programme or project might affect the health of the community before it is implemented.

  • Our health is affected by decisions made in areas outside of public health, such as planning, transport, housing and education.

  • HIA ensures that health is considered in these and other important decisions.

  • HIA is used to determine the impact of proposed policies, laws, programmes or plans on the health of communities to ensure they are more inclusive, more equitable, and more sustainable for everyone.

  • The HIA process supports government strategies in Ireland and Northern Ireland to improve population health and health equity.

Find out more about HIA in this short animated video

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Health Impact Assessment?

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a process that can help improve the health of communities and reduce health inequalities. It can be used to help understand how a proposal for a new law, policy, programme, or project might affect the health of the whole community. 

HIA can be used at national, regional or local level before a proposal is implemented. It helps to ensure that new proposals are more inclusive, more equitable, and more sustainable for everyone. For example, it will assess how people with less money, children, older people, or people with a disability might be affected by a new law or policy. HIA can be carried out by a wide range of decision- and policy-makers, from statutory agencies to local councils, community groups, and private companies.  There is no legal requirement to conduct a HIA in Ireland or Northern Ireland but using HIA can support better integration of health and health equity into decision-making. 

Who uses Health Impact Assessment?

HIA can be used by policy- and decision-makers in government, statutory agencies, community groups and voluntary organisations to ensure new proposals reduce any health risks and promote health opportunities for specific groups as well as the wider community.  

At national level, government departments or statutory agencies can use HIA to assess proposed laws or policies.  At local level, HIA may be used by local councils and the community and voluntary sector organisations to ‘health proof’ new and future programmes or projects.  

HIA can provide evidence-based conclusions or recommendations and the process can also involve stakeholders and groups who may be affected by a proposal.  A new suite of HIA Guidance, launching in November, incorporates elements of wider UK, European, and international best practice and updates previous guidance from 2009. 

What is involved in Health Impact Assessment?

HIA can support people from different backgrounds to work together to ensure that decision-making for health is fairer and more inclusive. 

HIA involves seven stages, beginning with a screening phase to determine if a full HIA is required or would be beneficial. After initial screening, the process involves scoping, analysis, reporting, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation stages. 

HIA process

HIA can be carried out as a standalone assessment or as part of an environmental assessment, such as a Strategic Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Assessment.  

HIA can complement or inform other impact assessments such as poverty, human rights, or equality impact assessments.