Information contained in health impact assessments (HIAs) provides valuable guidance for professionals in many fields and industries, also known as sectors. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that HIA practitioners across sectors have unmet information needs and face challenges accessing health related data, including findings available in HIAs.
The research team conducted a series of focus groups to explore the information needs of practitioners across sectors and to identify challenges they face accessing this information. Participants were stratified by geographic location, sector affiliation, and HIA expertise.
Findings suggest that practitioners from all sectors can benefit from the integration of health-related information, and the information contained in HIAs, into their work. Reported information needs include baseline data, geocoded socio-demographic information, granular local data, peer reviewed literature on the impacts of social determinants and other factors with health outcomes, and technical assistance and best practices.
Participants indicated that they obtain information from their professional network, universities sponsoring research, and online resources. Information challenges include lack of data that match the size and the scope of the target area of interest, proprietary or pay-for-access sources, varying terminology for the same concepts across sectors, inadequate resources and HIA expertise for searching, and limited information on the impact of findings of completed HIAs.
Identifying and understanding the information needs of practitioners is essential to maximizing the use of existing and future HIAs. An interactive and comprehensive web-based repository system for HIAs may provide value and assist practitioners in meeting these needs.
Health impact assessment
An information needs analysis of HIA practitioners across sectors