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Paper: 116 - Involving the Public in HIA: An evaluation of current practice in Wales

Chloe Chadderton, Eva Elliott, Gareth Williams


This paper reports on a research study investigating the methods and impact of members of the public and community groups involvement in Health Impact Assessment (HIA). A key feature of HIA is the involvement of stakeholders and experts who may be affected, involved in the implementation or have specialist knowledge in the ways in which policies, programmes and projects may impact on the health and wellbeing of the population. The involvement of the public has been seen as both problematic and as key to the production of good quality HIAs. The public are seen to be a barrier to implementing change, over-emotional and ignorant of ‘the facts’ and ‘of science’ on one hand, and as crucial to the success of policy implementation and holders of local knowledge on the other. HIAs have been conducted at many levels of governance across Wales (national and local government as well as community based), to different depths and on a range of proposals.

The methodology includes a comprehensive literature review, and case studies in Wales using qualitative interviews and focus groups with members of the public and representatives from community groups and the statutory sector. A grounded theory approach is adopted in order to identify emergent themes in the data.

Here we report some initial findings to address and initiate discussion on the following:

  • The impact of public involvement on the process and outcomes of the HIA
  • The ways and extent to which members of the public and communities have been involved in HIA
  • Key enablers and inhibitors of involvement and engagement
  • How the statutory sector views public and community involvement in HIA.
  • The relevance to current developments in citizen-centred public services and policies in Wales

Paper: 116 - Involving the Public in HIA: An evaluation of current practice in Wales, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Series Working Paper Series, September(2008), ISSN 978-1-904815-77-8

Additional Information

 Keywords: Health Impact Assessment, public involvement, lay knowledge, benefits and risks, inhibitors and enablers

Welsh Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (WHIASU)