Prioritizing Health: A Systematic Approach to Scoping Determinants in Health Impact Assessment

  • McCallum L
  • Ollson C
  • Stefanovic I
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The determinants of health are those factors that have the potential to affect health, either positively or negatively, and include a range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors. In the practice of health impact assessment (HIA), the stage at which the determinants of health are considered for inclusion is during the scoping step. The scoping step is intended to identify how the HIA will be carried out and to set the boundaries (e.g., temporal and geographical) for the assessment. There are several factors that can help to inform the scoping process, many of which are considered in existing HIA tools and guidance; however, a systematic method of prioritizing determinants was found to be lacking. In order to analyze existing HIA scoping tools that are available, a systematic literature review was conducted, including both primary and gray literature. A total of 10 HIA scoping tools met the inclusion/exclusion criteria and were carried forward for comparative analysis. The analysis focused on minimum elements and practice standards of HIA scoping that have been established in the field. The analysis determined that existing approaches lack a clear, systematic method of prioritization of health determinants for inclusion in HIA. This finding led to the development of a Systematic HIA Scoping tool that addressed this gap. The decision matrix tool uses factors, such as impact, public concern, and data availability, to prioritize health determinants. Additionally, the tool allows for identification of data gaps and provides a transparent method for budget allocation and assessment planning. In order to increase efficiency and improve utility, the tool was programed into Microsoft Excel. Future work in the area of HIA methodology development is vital to the ongoing success of the practice and utilization of HIA as a reliable decision-making tool.




McCallum, L. C., Ollson, C. A., & Stefanovic, I. L. (2016). Prioritizing Health: A Systematic Approach to Scoping Determinants in Health Impact Assessment. Frontiers in Public Health, 4.

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