Objectives: To document the growing use in the United States of health impact assessment (HIA) methods to help planners and others consider the health consequences of their decisions.
Methods: Using multiple search strategies, 27 HIAs were identified that were completed in the U.S. during 1999-2007. Key characteristics of each HIA were abstracted from published and unpublished sources.
Results: Topics examined in these HIAs ranged from policies about living wages and after-school programs to projects about power plants and public transit. Most HIAs were funded by local health departments, foundations, or federal agencies. Concerns about health disparities were especially important in HIAs on housing, urban redevelopment, home energy subsidies, and wage policy. The use of quantitative and nonquantitative methods varied among HIAs. Most HIAs presented recommendations for policy or project changes to improve health. Impacts of the HIAs were infrequently documented.
Conclusions: These completed HIAs are useful for helping conduct future HIAs and for training public health officials and others about HIAs. More work is needed to document the impact of HIAs and thereby increase their value in decision-making processes.