Once the focal issue(s) of the HIA have been identified, the next step is to describe the current conditions using quantitative and/or qualitative data related to the health issues identified during the scoping step. The assessment activities are dependent on the HIA process selected; tasks range from limited data collection to comprehensive community and stakeholder engagement.
A mixed method approach can be utilized to evaluate the potential risk factors and health outcomes of the drafted plan, policy or project. This approach can include some or all of the following, depending on the given timeframe and funding:
- a systematic literature review
- primary and secondary data collection
- an analysis of existing health data
- spatial analysis; and
- stakeholder and community engagement
A variety of existing data, as well as local data for descriptive and analytical purposes, is used throughout the report to best represent the health conditions of the affected population. Data is essential to describing the demographic and socioeconomic makeup, health status, health behaviors and health risks of a community. Data can also help to explain the built environment conditions. Guidance from experts, for example, transportation and/or planning, is utilized, as needed, to better understand certain components of the plan, policy or project. Key-informant interviews and focus groups are incorporated to understand local knowledge and expert opinions into the HIA process.