HIA-IM: Developing a Health Impact Assessment Implementation Model: Enhancing Intersectoral Approaches in Tackling Health Inequalities

Background & Research Aims

The HIA-IM project is funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) under the Emerging Investigator Award scheme 2022. The project started in January 2023 and will run for four years. HIA-IM is co-hosted between ISS21 and the School of Public Health in University College Cork. 

The HIA-IM research team includes Dr Monica O’Mullane as PI, Dr Tara Kenny as Postdoctoral Researcher and Kirsty Nash as Research Assistant.  

The project presents an exciting opportunity to seek ways to embed and normalise the practice of HIA in Ireland. The premise of the project is based on our knowledge that incorporating a health focus, drawing on the determinants of health across all publicly designed, funded and implemented policies can help create supportive living environments. We know that marginalized groups in society are particularly vulnerable to policies that do not consider the determinants of health. One established tool and approach developed to create health-focused policies is Health Impact Assessment (HIA). It allows for an analysis of potential or unintended impacts of a policy to be highlighted, and in addressing these impacts, it creates an opportunity to change these policies.

In Ireland, we are presented with a unique opportunity to examine HIA implementation by capitalising on the synergy of recent policy commitments driving HIA implementation. Specifically, the national public health framework Healthy Ireland 2013-2025, and the newly developed all-island Institute of Public Health HIA guidance (2021), have coalesced in steering the strategic direction of HIA. Building on these policy commitments, HIA-IM aims to further strengthen intersectoral policy and practice in tackling health inequalities through the development of an enhanced HIA implementation model. The model will be developed by applying an action research methodological approach to the conduct of two HIAs in Ireland – one at a local policy level, addressing the Cork City Development Plan, and one at a national policy level addressing the Irish Government’s Climate Action Plan. This model will assist stakeholders including state bodies, community groups and the health services in carrying out HIAs. Research findings will directly inform the national roll-out of the Institute of Public Health Ireland HIA programme. HIA-IM is now needed more than ever in order to ‘health-proof’ public policies, as we cope with challenges such as the global climate emergency. The project will help reduce the risk of policies that impact adversely on health and wellbeing with particular reference to Ireland’s marginalised groups. 

Project Funding & Dates

The HIA-IM project is funded by the HRB under the Emerging Investigator Award scheme 2022. The project started in January 2023 and will run for four years.

Project Team and Collaborators

HIA-IM includes colleagues from UCC including Professor Ivan Perry, Dr Sheena McHugh, both from the School of Public Health. Dr Ger Mullally from the School of Sociology & Philosophy, and Dr Hannah Daly from the ERI.  Dr Joanna Purdy (Institute of Public Health Ireland), Professor Uduak Archibong (University of Bradford) and Dr Lisa Pursell (University of Galway) are members of the Steering Group with Sheena and Ger. Professor Katherine Smith (University of Strathclyde) and Professor Ivan Perry are project mentors.

Project collaborators include Bernie Connolly, PPI collaborator (Cork Environmental Forum), Dr Ben Harris-Roxas (University of New South Wales), Dr Liz Green (Public Health Wales, HIA Support Unit), Ben Cave (BCA Insight Ltd), Karen O’Mahoney (Cork City Council), Dr Ina Kelly (Health Service Executive Ireland- HSE), Dr Paul Kavanagh (Health Service Executive Ireland- HSE), Dr Sara Burke (Trinity College Dublin) and Tadhg O’Mahony (Environmental Protection Agency Ireland). Denise Cahill, coordinator of Cork Healthy Cities, will be a member of the PPI consultation group for the project.


For more information on HIA-IM, please contact Monica O'Mullane (m.omullane@ucc.ie).