The Integrated Transport and Health Impact Modeling Tool in Nashville, Tennessee, USA: Implementation Steps and Lessons Learned

J Transp Health. 2017 Jun;5:172-181. doi: 10.1016/j.jth.2016.06.009. Epub 2016 Jul 22.


The Integrated Transport and Health Impact Model (ITHIM) is a comprehensive tool that estimates the hypothetical health effects of transportation mode shifts through changes to physical activity, air pollution, and injuries. The purpose of this paper is to describe the implementation of ITHIM in greater Nashville, Tennessee (USA), describe important lessons learned, and serve as an implementation guide for other practitioners and researchers interested in running ITHIM. As might be expected in other metropolitan areas in the US, not all the required calibration data was available locally. We utilized data from local, state, and federal sources to fulfill the 14 ITHIM calibration items, which include disease burdens, travel habits, physical activity participation, air pollution levels, and traffic injuries and fatalities. Three scenarios were developed that modeled stepwise increases in walking and bicycling, and one that modeled reductions in car travel. Cost savings estimates were calculated by scaling national-level, disease-specific direct treatment costs and indirect lost productivity costs to the greater Nashville population of approximately 1.5 million. Implementation required approximately one year of intermittent, part-time work. Across the range of scenarios, results suggested that 24 to 123 deaths per year could be averted in the region through a 1%-5% reduction in the burden of several chronic diseases. This translated into $10-$63 million in estimated direct and indirect cost savings per year. Implementing ITHIM in greater Nashville has provided local decision makers with important information on the potential health effects of transportation choices. Other jurisdictions interested in ITHIM might find the Nashville example as a useful guide to streamline the effort required to calibrate and run the model.