29 October 2010
24 October 2010
The purpose of mini Stoke is to bring to life a number of important ‘facts’ about peoples health and well-being in Stoke-on-Trent. It describes a moment in time, and aims to tell the story of what Stoke-on-Trent would be like if it was made up of one hundred people.
It is hoped that Miniature Stoke-on-Trent will be used by a whole range of people from community groups, local councillors, schools, colleges, universities and local employers to spark conversations about life in Stoke-on-Trent and to share people’s experiences of living, working and visiting the city.
Check out the Miniature Stoke website at: www.miniaturestoke.co.uk
Check out the Stoke-on-Trent Healthy City website at: www.healthycity-stoke.co.uk
Check out the Miniature Glasgow website at: www.miniatureglasgow.com
22 October 2010
Check out the Glenwood Springs Post Independent article.
Most experienced HIA practitioners will have come across similar statements on their HIAs (from all kinds of stakeholders including communities and proponents). Making judgements under uncertainty and trying to quality assure these judgements is one of the most difficult aspects of doing good HIAs.
There are no easy answers but peer review both internal to the organisation doing the HIA as well as from external HIA practitioners and scientists (something suggested for this HIA) and having an explicit and detailed report can both help.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Click here to download the draft Battlement Mesa HIA Report.
WASHINGTON — The Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, today announced nearly $400,000 in grants to four organizations to conduct health impact assessments (HIAs). The assessments will identify and address potential and often overlooked health implications of policy proposals including farm-to-school food legislation, energy development, smart-metering technology for electric utilities and urban transportation plans.
The projects, to be conducted in Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and Oregon, are at the leading edge of a growing movement in the United States in which governments, non-profit groups and other organizations use HIAs to help ensure that decision makers craft public policies and projects that avoid unintended consequences and unanticipated costs. These four awards bring the Health Impact Project’s investments in this field to more than $1.5 million for 2010.
“An HIA identifies the benefits and consequences of government decisions that fall outside the traditional scope of public health,” said Aaron Wernham, M.D., director of the Health Impact Project. “These grants will give policy makers powerful tools to weigh the pros and cons of a proposal, identify health opportunities and tradeoffs and ensure that their decisions achieve the greatest benefits for people in affected communities.”
The newly-funded HIAs are part of a diverse portfolio of projects occurring across the country. Currently, through funding from the Health Impact Project, HIAs are being conducted on proposals for public transit systems; a county agricultural plan; a land-use plan to redevelop an abandoned factory site; proposed state “cap-and-trade” regulations and a state budget process. It is expected that a second round of funding and call for proposals will be released in early 2011.
“Some of the decisions that have the greatest impact on our ability to be healthy are made by leaders outside the fields of health and health care,” said Michelle A. Larkin, J.D., M.S., R.N., senior program officer and director of the public health team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “HIAs give leaders outside the health sector the information they need to factor health into a decision and can help them create safer, healthier communities throughout the United States.”
The four projects announced today by the Health Impact Project include:
- The first-ever HIA on a major metropolitan transportation and comprehensive growth plan will be led by the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development (CQGRD) at the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Architecture. The Center will examine how PLAN 2040—which is being conducted by the Atlanta Regional Commission, the local intergovernmental coordination agency—will impact a range of health issues, such as injury and asthma rates, and the risks of obesity and diabetes. PLAN 2040 integrates multiple aspects of regional planning, including transportation and land use; housing; greenspace; and water and air quality through the year 2040. A final HIA is expected in September 2011.
- The study by the Green River District Health Department in Owensboro, KY, is the first to address the overall health impacts that may result from a coal gasification project. Rather than burning coal, gasification techniques utilize a technology that converts coal into a substitute or synthetic natural gas. Together, the proposed plants—Cash Creek, Kentucky NewGas and Indiana Gasification—have the potential to affect nearly 500,000 people living nearby. The HIA will examine important health tradeoffs that could be associated with the planned projects. These include the benefits they could bring to the health of area residents as a result of employment opportunities and subsequent increase in income, health care access and local tax revenue, as well as the risks posed by any emissions produced. This HIA will provide practical recommendations for actions that could be taken to maximize the benefits and minimize any potential harm from these projects. The HIA’s recommendations will be included in a final report scheduled to be completed by February 2011, and can inform lawmaker’s decisions concerning these plants.
- “Smart meters” may help electric utilities improve the reliability of the power grid and encourage conservation during peak-demand periods, but the health risks and benefits of this technology have not yet been studied. That is why the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at Boston Medical Center plans to produce a unique HIA of a pilot program run by Illinois’ largest electric utility, Commonwealth Edison. The assessment will measure the health effects of this technology in western metropolitan Chicago, in particular how these innovations could protect customers from potentially life-threatening exposure to heat or cold. The HIA also will look at the impact of energy prices on vulnerable populations such as the elderly, low-income or disabled, and the potential for this technology to increase or decrease the utility’s quality of service. The findings, expected in mid-2011, will become a model for understanding the potential impacts of widespread implementation. The grantee and Chicago’s non-profit Citizens Utility Board will collaborate on the HIA, disseminate the findings and make recommendations based on what was learned from the assessment to the Illinois Commerce Commission, the regulatory body monitoring the pilot program.
- Upstream Public Health, a public policy non-profit based in Portland, OR, will conduct a novel HIA of proposed legislation in Oregon that would provide state funds to purchase locally-grown foods for schools and set up school teaching gardens. The lessons learned from this project could be applied to other food and agricultural policies being considered by states across the nation. The goal of the HIA is to inform state lawmakers and examine how the proposed law would impact child nutrition in public schools and the economic health of rural communities. The analysis will examine how new purchases of local foods, especially fruits and vegetables, will impact a variety of diet-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity. In addition, the HIA will consider how increased local food purchasing could best benefit the health and well-being of economically-depressed rural communities. The full report is expected to be available in March 2011.
To learn more about HIAs, how they work, previously funded projects and the goals of the Health Impact Project, please visit www.healthimpactproject.org.
20 October 2010
This is an interesting research report on some key financial costs of being overweight and obese. A summary is presented below:
More than 60% of the United States population is overweight or obese, and if the current trajectory continues, 50% of the population will be obese by 2030. There is no question that being obese or overweight, is more costly than being of normal weight. Using existing literature, we have detailed the costs incurred due to overweight and obesity that affect working-age adults at the individual level.
What is the cost of being obese in America?
The overall, tangible, annual costs of being obese are $4,879 for an obese woman and $2,646 for an obese man. The overall annual costs of being overweight are $524 and $432 for women and men, respectively. For both genders, the incremental costs of obesity are much higher than the incremental costs of being overweight.
Adding the value of lost life to these annual costs produces even more dramatic results. Average annualized costs, including value of lost life, are $8,365 for obese women and $6,518 for obese men.
We only have a partial approximation of the cost of obesity for individuals.
The picture we have created is only a partial look at the individual costs related to obesity. Existing literature provides information on health- and work-related costs, but with the exception of fuel costs, there is no published academic research that gives us insight into consumer-related costs, such as clothing, air travel, automobile size or furniture. Anecdotal evidence suggests these costs could be significant.
How obese you are matters.
Where it was possible to break down the costs by degrees of obesity, it is clear the incremental costs of morbid obesity are much higher than those of moderate obesity. Total incremental costs for obese women are more than nine times higher than those for overweight women. For obese men, the incremental costs are six times higher than for overweight men.
The cost drivers are different for the overweight and the obese.
- For those who are overweight, the main cost drivers are direct medical costs – 66% for women and 80% for men.
- Conversely, while direct medical cost is the primary driver of costs for obese men, only one-third of the overall costs for obese women are medical costs.
- Obese women are disproportionately affected by job-related costs.
- The overall, annual, incremental costs are significantly higher for obese women than for obese men. The difference is mostly the result of lost wages for obese women.
18 October 2010
Farming Pathogens has an interesting article titled 'How Mayor Bloomberg causes obesity'.
The article argues that lifestyle focused interventions e.g. the focus on making welfare recipients eat healthily by not allowing them to buy 'junk' food using food vouchers ignores the socio-economic context within which health choices are made and how 'stressful environments' create the conditions for people to almost be 'self-medicating' on sugar and salt.
16 October 2010
The Contribution of HTA, HNA, and HIA to the Assessment and Translation of Technologies in the Field of Public Health Genomics
Major concerns with regard to these fields are, on the one hand, the rather slow and limited translation of new knowledge and, on the other hand, missing insights into the impact on public health and health care practice of those technologies that are actually introduced.
This paper aims to give an overview of the major assessment instruments in public health [health technology assessment (HTA), health needs assessment (HNA) and health impact assessment (HIA)] which could contribute to the systematic translation and assessment of genomic health applications by focussing at population level and on public health policy making. It is shown to what extent HTA, HNA and HIA contribute to translational research by using the continuum of translational research (T1–T4) in genomic medicine as an analytic framework. The selected assessment methodologies predominantly cover 2 to 4 phases within the T1–T4 system. HTA delivers the most complete set of methodologies when assessing health applications. HNA can be used to prioritize areas where genomic health applications are needed or to identify infrastructural needs. HIA delivers information on the impact of technologies in a wider scope and promotes informed decision making. HTA, HNA and HIA provide a partly overlapping and partly unique set of methodologies and infrastructure for the translation and assessment of genomic health applications. They are broad in scope and go beyond the continuum of T1–T4 translational research regarding policy translation.
To go to the pay-per-view article click here.
14 October 2010
A questionnaire survey of 52 HIA practitioners who had conducted a total of 103 HIAs over a 3-year period was carried out, followed by semi-structured interviews of 11 practitioners to gain deeper insights into the questionnaire findings.
Ten different sources of evidence were seen to have been applied to the HIA process. Literature review was discovered to be the most commonly utilized source of evidence, having been used by 37 out of 52 practitioners (71.2%) and in 83.5% of the 103 HIAs. Engagement with local residents was second in terms of usage by practitioners (69.2%) and expert opinion was third, having been used by 67.3% of respondents. Other sources of evidence included completed HIA reports, survey, modelling and Delphi exercises. The findings point to efforts to ensure that predictions are grounded on robust sources of evidence, although several issues need to be addressed in the pursuit of evidence-based HIA (EBHIA).
To go to the pay-per-view article click here.
12 October 2010
10 October 2010
Interesting editorial in the latest issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. Below are the extracts that I liked that has relevance for HIA [emphasis added and phrases in square brackets]:
"...In the early 1900s, the environment was already well understood to be an important contributor to health, and its importance was routinely taught to [medical and nursing] students. Think of Florence Nightingale’s 6 Ds of disease: dirt, drink (clean drinking water), diet, damp, drafts, and drains (proper drainage and sewage systems). With the advent of high-tech medicine, however, these fundamentals began to receive short shrift in graduate education. At the same time, the house call - a home visit that allowed the physician to view the environment in which the patient lived - became increasingly rare, and doctors’ visits began to take place in the confines of modern offices or hospitals, far removed from the day-to-day surroundings of the family. Over time, the environment became “invisible” to the medical practitioner.
...Why has it been so difficult to move from knowing to doing? First, many of the decisions affecting children are made not by those in the health sector, but by our professional colleagues in the agriculture, education, energy, housing, mining, and transportation sectors. Just as “men are from Mars and women are from Venus,” it seems as if professionals in each of these sectors are from different planets. Although we may speak the same language, we rarely have more than a cursory understanding of the forces that shape one another’s decisions and other considerations...
Click here to go to the October 2010 Table of Contents.
Click here to download the article as a PDF.
Image Source: Salim Vohra
7 October 2010
These look very exciting and I'm very tempted to go! The only thing holding me back is the sustainability of flying to the US for a only a few days. What the examples below do show is the variety and depth of HIA work that is going on in the USA.
Health Impact Assessments: A Tool for Social Justice
- Community Health Assessment via Social Determinants and GIS: Informing Policy for Community Health Equity
- Incorporating Health Impact Assessment into the I-710 Freeway Expansion Decision-Making Process
- "Impact" in Health Impact Assessments: Effectiveness of HIAs as a Decision-Making Tool (Presented by Aaron Wernham, director of the Health Impact Project)
- Using Health Impact Assessment to Improve Health Outcomes Associated with Housing Development
- Health Impact Assessment in the U.S.: Bridging research and policy to address the determinants of health and health disparities (Presented by Aaron Wernham, director of the Health Impact Project)
- An Evaluation of Efforts to Raise Human Health Assessment in the Environmental Impact Assessment Process
- Health Impact Assessment in the National Environmental Policy Act: Leveraging Resources across Federal Agencies for Environmental Health and Informed Decision Making
- Use of Health Impact Assessment to Help Inform Decision Making Regard Natural Gas Drilling Permits in Colorado
- Balancing equity, Assessing health impacts, Ensuring effectiveness
- Health Impact Assessment Capacity Building in Wisconsin
- Paid Sick Leave as Public Health Policy: A Health Impact Assessment of the California Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act
- Building Policy Capacity Through a Community-Based Health Impact Assessment
- Gambling on the Health of the Public: A Health Impact Assessment for an Urban Casino
- Health Impact Assessment and/of City Council Policy: Opportunities to Address Social Determinants of Health in Baltimore
- Health Impact Assessment as a Tool for Assuring Social Justice Regarding Interventions Implemented on Populations
- Public Health through Public Participation: Reducing Impacts from the Largest Freeway Expansion Project in the U.S.
Source: Health Impact Project
4 October 2010
The guide's key conclusions are [Bold emphasis added]:
More details of the guide can be found at http://royalsociety.org/climate-change-summary-of-science/
Download the guide directly by clicking here.
1 October 2010
Zotero: browser based citation manager soon supporting Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer
As with the majority of online services it follows a freemium model i.e. it is free to store 100MB after which it costs $20 a year for 1Gb, $60 per year for 5Gb and so on.
I think I will give it another go. There is also another similar online app called Mendeley which is also worth checking out.
Zotero can be found at www.zotero.org
Mendeley can be found at www.mendeley.com
If you use either of these let us know whether you have found them useful or not.