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Improving Access to Robust Evidence for HIA: Final Report to the Department Of Health

Mindell, J; Curtis, SE; Boaz, AL; Joffe, M; Biddulph, J; (2006) Improving Access to Robust Evidence for HIA: Final Report to the Department Of Health. London Health Observatory: London.

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Abstract

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) assesses the positive and negative effects of a project, programme or policy on health, and on health inequalities through the distribution of those effects. Many tools, guidelines and frameworks exist to assist in the conduct of HIA. This project does not set out to replicate any of this work, and is not a guide to conducting HIA. HIA has been described as “the use of the best available evidence to assess the likely effect of a specific policy in a specific situation”. However, the current HIA methodology has been criticised for lack of rigour in collecting and analysing evidence. Three types of knowledge are combined in HIA: that provided by stakeholders, local data, and evidence from previous studies. This project considers the last of these. A number of difficulties are acknowledged in reviewing evidence for health impact assessment (HIA).hese factors have implications for the commissioning and conducting of reviews. There is a need to set standards and provide guidance to assure a quality product. Although there are many sets of guidelines and frameworks for conducting HIA, none address the issue of reviewing published evidence for use in HIA. Nor does existing guidance on conducting systematic reviews address these particular circumstances of HIA that cause difficulties with reviewing evidence, particularly the lack of time that would be required for conducting a systematic review. The London Health Observatory, in association with London University academics involved in HIA and the former Health Development Agency, therefore undertook a Department of Health funded project within the Department of Health’s Policy Research Programme to improve access to robust evidence for HIA. Aims and Objectives The key aims of the project were: 1. to improve the evidence base for HIA by: a. collating quality criteria for different types of evidence, b. developing guidelines for robust reviews of evidence, and c. piloting and evaluating the guidelines; and 2. to improve access to robust evidence for HIA by peer-review of existing reviews of evidence already undertaken and publishing quality-assured evidence reviews. The guidelines were intended to be authoritative and of practical help in commissioning, conducting or assessing reviews of published evidence for HIA. They would be developed for both brief and more comprehensive reviews of evidence in HIA. Methods A small steering group was set up to manage the project. An Advisory Group comprising HIA academics, HIA practitioners, and experts in producing systematic reviews, was formed to help develop the underlying principles; comment on draft guidelines and advise the steering group. A set of principles for reviewing evidence for HIA and for development of the guidelines were agreed. Qualitative research examined the format and presentation of the guidelines. An extensive background document drew on published literature to initiate the development of the guidelines. Iterations of subsequent revised drafts were discussed by email by the steering and advisory groups and by other HIA practitioners and academics and by discussion at workshops at conferences. The steering group amended the guidelines in response to each round of consultation. Version 3.2 incorporated both the comments on content in response to circulation of earlier drafts and also the results of the qualitative research regarding format and presentation. Version 4 was piloted and version 5 peer-reviewed by HIA practitioners and academics who had not been involved with the guidelines’ development. The final version was applied to a selection of existing reviews of evidence which had been developed for use in HIA. The objectives were to increase access to existing reviews considered of sufficient quality to be useful in other HIAs and to assess whether the guidelines would assist in appraising whether such evidence reviews would be of wider use in other HIAs. These appraisals were conducted by volunteers in the public health field not involved with the project.

Type: Report
Title: Improving Access to Robust Evidence for HIA: Final Report to the Department Of Health
Keywords: health impact asssessment (HIA), Evidence, Review
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/122645
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