• Open Access

Characteristics of health impact assessments reported in Australia and New Zealand 2005–2009

Authors

  • Fiona Haigh,

    1. Centre for Health Equity Training Research & Evaluation (CHETRE), Centre for Primary Health Care & Equity, University of New South Wales; South Western Sydney and Sydney Local Health Districts, NSW Health
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  • Elizabeth Harris,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Health Equity Training Research & Evaluation (CHETRE), Centre for Primary Health Care & Equity, University of New South Wales; South Western Sydney and Sydney Local Health Districts, NSW Health
    • Correspondence to: Dr Elizabeth Harris, Centre for Health Equity Training Research & Evaluation (CHETRE), University of New South Wales Centre for Primary Health Care & Equity, Liverpool Hospital, Locked Bag 7103, Liverpool BC 1871; e-mail: e.harris@unsw.edu.au

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  • Harrison NG Chok,

    1. Centre for Health Equity Training Research & Evaluation (CHETRE), Centre for Primary Health Care & Equity, University of New South Wales; South Western Sydney and Sydney Local Health Districts, NSW Health
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  • Fran Baum,

    1. Southgate Institute for Health, Society & Equity; South Australian Community Health Research Unit (SACHRU), Flinders University, South Australia
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  • Ben Harris-Roxas,

    1. Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, University of New South Wales
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  • Lynn Kemp,

    1. CHETRE, Centre for Primary Health Care & Equity, University of New South Wales; South Western Sydney and Sydney Local Health Districts, NSW Health
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  • Jeff Spickett,

    1. WHO Collaborating Centre in Environmental Health Impact Assessment; School of Public Health, Curtin University, Western Australia
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  • Helen Keleher,

    1. School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Victoria
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  • Richard Morgan,

    1. Centre for Impact Assessment Research and Training (CIART), Department of Geography, University of Otago, New Zealand
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  • Mark Harris,

    1. Centre for Primary Health Care & Equity, University of New South Wales
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  • Arthur M. Wendel,

    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health, United States
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  • Andrew L. Dannenberg

    1. Carter Consulting, Inc.; Healthy Community Design Initiative; National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;, University of Washington, United States
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  • The copyright line for this article was changed on 12 September 2013 after original online publication.

Abstract

Objective: To describe the use and reporting of Health Impact Assessment (HIA) in Australia and New Zealand between 2005 and 2009.

Methods: We identified 115 HIAs undertaken in Australia and New Zealand between 2005 and 2009. We reviewed 55 HIAs meeting the study's inclusion criteria to identify characteristics and appraise the quality of the reports.

Results: Of the 55 HIAs, 31 were undertaken in Australia and 24 in New Zealand. The HIAs were undertaken on plans (31), projects (12), programs (6) and policies (6). Compared to Australia, a higher proportion of New Zealand HIAs were on policies and plans and were rapid assessments done voluntarily to support decision-making. In both countries, most HIAs were on land use planning proposals. Overall, 65% of HIA reports were judged to be adequate.

Conclusion: This study is the first attempt to empirically investigate the nature of the broad range of HIAs done in Australia and New Zealand and has highlighted the emergence of HIA as a growing area of public health practice. It identifies areas where current practice could be improved and provides a baseline against which future HIA developments can be assessed.

Implications: There is evidence that HIA is becoming a part of public health practice in Australia and New Zealand across a wide range of policies, plans and projects. The assessment of quality of reports allows the development of practical suggestions on ways current practice may be improved. The growth of HIA will depend on ongoing organisation and workforce development in both countries.

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