There are so many neighbourhood-level drivers that impact our health that making sense of all the data can be difficult.  This tool helps us understand how the drivers and the data fit together and, importantly, what is most important to the health of our neighbourhoods. 

For the attention of: Regional and local-level urban planners. Health impact assessment practitioners.

The problem: The use of health impact assessments is rapidly growing and can benefit from the integration of a wide variety of available data sources; however, integration of several different sources of data can be a challenge.

There are so many factors that determine the health of neighbourhoods that:

  • putting them together to understand how they all interact can be challenging.
  • choosing which factor or factors to prioritize is often difficult.

What we did: Our work presents a method of integrating several different sources of health impact data to create a single score of potential health impacts of an area within a given community relative to other areas within that community.

We first put different data sources into common units of measure using a standardization technique.  Next, by taking into consideration the strength of available evidence, input from community stakeholders, and other sources of data, we individually weighted the diverse range of variables related to documented sources of health impacts, both positive and negative.  We then combined these weighted quantities of impact into a combined health impact score, which provides a relative score (compared to other areas within the study area) for a given location.

What our study adds: This study adds a tool that decision makers, planners, and health impact assessment practitioners can use to better understand the drivers that are impacting the health of their neighbourhoods.

The scores allow identification of what factors in a neighbourhood are most relevant in driving health impacts in a specific locality. This can help decision makers set priorities for which issues to address.

Implications for city policy and practice:

Practitioners seeking to better understand the sources of potential health impacts, either when using a health impact assessment or some other approach to integrate multiple sources of data into the decision making or planning process, could benefit from using this method/tool.  This tool helps to further integrate health into broader decision-making processes, such as health in all policies.

The tool can be used to inform plans for healthy development, health impact assessments, and can provide a health-oriented evidence-base for decision makers to consider when deliberating and setting priorities.

Links to other resources and support:

Full research article: A neighbourhood-level potential health impact scoring tool to support local-level health impact assessments

Authors: John D. Prochaska (@DrJohnProchaska), Robert N. Buschmann and Daniel Jupiter

Editor: Marcus Grant