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New Work Group to Support Health Impact Assessments in Washington

2012 Washington Joint Conference on Health participants create a work group with the goal of increasing the number of Health Impact Assessments around the state.
New Work Group to Support Health Impact Assessments in Washington

Clark County, WA has conducted three Health Impact Assessments. Photo courtesy of Clark County Public Health.

2012 Washington Joint Conference on Health participants create a work group with the goal of increasing the number of Health Impact Assessments around the state.

October 26, 2012

Participants at the 2012 Washington Joint Conference on Health met last week to discuss ways to increase the number of Health Impact Assessments around the state. To mirror national partnership building efforts, conference attendees agreed to reactivate a state-wide work group to support Health Impact Assessments in Washington.

“States that have completed more Health Impact Assessments have been able to do so because they spent time building partnerships to share resources and find funding," commented Barbara Rose, MPH, NWCPHP Outreach and Training Design Specialist. "It is my hope that this work group will help do the same to institutionalize Health Impact Assessments in Washington.”

A Health Impact Assessment is a tool for determining the potential health effects of a proposed policy, plan, program, or project. Assessments can be applied broadly to inform decision making in areas where health is not normally considered, such as housing, transportation, employment, and agriculture.

Past Health Impact Assessments in Washington have all been related to land use and urban planning. Now practitioners are looking to expand ways in which these assessments are used.

The work group’s first step will be to develop strategies for overcoming the following barriers: lack of funding, staff capacity, community engagement, and the reluctance of decision-makers to support the process or outcomes. NWCPHP, which provides research, training, evaluation, and communication services, will facilitate the work group and help develop training opportunities for the region. The work group steering committee will meet this fall and plans to hold the first all-hands meeting in early 2013.

Health Impact Assessments have been used in Europe and Canada since the mid-1980s. The popularity of Health Impact Assessments in the United States has increased rapidly over the last seven years due to the development of practice standards, a growing national network, and increased funding.

To join the Washington Health Impact Assessment work group or to be informed on future related trainings, contact Barbara Rose at barbrose@u.washington.edu.

Related Resources
Incorporating Health Impact Assessment into Community Design and Transportation Decisions (archived webinar)

Health Impact Project

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