The European Centre for Health Policy (1999) Gothenburg Consensus is widely accepted as the seminal definition of Health Impact Assessment and defines it as:

‘A combination of procedures, methods and tools by which a policy, programme or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of a population, and the distribution of those effects within the population’.

However, alternative definitions have recently been proposed (Elliott et al. 2010) as the practice of HIA has evolved:

‘…a process through which evidence (of different kinds), interests, values and meanings are brought into dialogue between relevant stakeholders (politicians, professionals and citizens) in order imaginatively to understand and anticipate the effects of change on health and health inequalities in a given population’.

HIA provides a systematic yet flexible and practical framework that can be used to consider the wider effects of local and national policies or initiatives and how they, in turn, may affect people’s health. HIA works best when it involves people and organisations who can contribute different kinds of relevant knowledge and insight. The information is then used to build in measures to maximise opportunities for health and to minimise any risks. It also provides a way of addressing the inequalities in health that continue to persist in Wales.

There are three main types of HIA:

Within any of the above, HIA can take one of three different forms, depending on the focus and the time and resources available:

For more information please read ‘HIA: A practical guide’


Elliott E, Harrop E, and Williams GH (2010) Contesting the science: public health knowledge and action in controversial land-use developments, in P. Bennett, K Calman, S Curtis and D Fischbacher-Smith (eds) Risk Communication and Public Health (second edition), Oxford: Oxford University Press.

European Centre for Health Policy (1999) Health Impact Assessment: Main concepts and suggested approach (Gothenburg Consensus), Brussels: European Centre for Health Policy.