Health impact assessments of health sector proposals: an audit and narrative synthesis

Nelius Wanjiku Wanjohi, Reema Harrison, Ben Harris-Roxas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Health impact assessment (HIA) is a tool used to assess the potential health impacts of proposed projects, programs, and policies. The extent of the use of HIAs conducted on health sector proposals, and what they focus on, is currently largely undocumented. This paper reviews HIAs conducted on health sector proposals, their characteristics and describes the settings in which they were conducted. Methods: A systematic review was conducted, including peer-reviewed journals and grey literature utilizing keywords, synonyms, and subject headings relevant to HIA and the health sector. Eligibility criteria were independently applied to the identified works and data appraisal conducted using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme qualitative checklist tool. Results: 19 HIAs were identified and included in the review, including 13 rapid, three intermediate, and two comprehensive HIAs. The HIAs use was evident across a range of health service contexts, though all but one had been conducted in developed countries. Conclusion: The use of HIAs in the health sector is limited. There were various benefits attributed to the HIAs analysed including and not limited to the allocation of resources, reducing inequalities, and identification of possible negative consequences of a project. There is an opportunity to improve the use and reporting of HIAs across health settings internationally to enhance the consideration of broader determinants of health, influence decision making, and use of evidence in health sector planning for the future.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11466
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • health impact assessment
  • health care
  • health services
  • planning


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