STUDY OBJECTIVE: To assess what methods are used in quantitative health impact assessment (HIA), and to identify areas for future research and development. DESIGN: HIA reports were assessed for (1) methods used to quantify effects of policy on determinants of health (exposure impact assessment) and (2) methods used to quantify health outcomes resulting from changes in exposure to determinants (outcome assessment). MAIN RESULTS: Of 98 prospective HIA studies, 17 reported quantitative estimates of change in exposure to determinants, and 16 gave quantified health outcomes. Eleven (categories of) determinants were quantified up to the level of health outcomes. Methods for exposure impact assessment were: estimation on the basis of routine data and measurements, and various kinds of modelling of traffic related and environmental factors, supplemented with experts' estimates and author's assumptions. Some studies used estimates from other documents pertaining to the policy. For the calculation of health outcomes, variants of epidemiological and toxicological risk assessment were used, in some cases in mathematical models. CONCLUSIONS: Quantification is comparatively rare in HIA. Methods are available in the areas of environmental health and, to a lesser extent, traffic accidents, infectious diseases, and behavioural factors. The methods are diverse and their reliability and validity are uncertain. Research and development in the following areas could benefit quantitative HIA: methods to quantify the effect of socioeconomic and behavioural determinants; user friendly simulation models; the use of summary measures of public health, expert opinion and scenario building; and empirical research into validity and reliability.

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Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Veerman, L., Barendregt, J., & Mackenbach, J. (2005). Quantitative health impact assessment: current practice and future directions. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Retrieved from