Participation, Information, Values, and Community Interests Within Health Impact Assessments

Health impact assessment (HIA) has emerged in the U.S. as one promising process to increase social and environmental justice through addressing health equity issues within planning. HIA practice is guided by values such as democracy and equity and grounded in broad social determinants of health. The most readily applied definition of democracy is problematic because it implies an element of direct, participatory engagement with the public. This is at odds with HIA practice that largely relies on stakeholder engagement strategies. This dissertation critically examines the engagement strategies of three transportation planning HIA cases to more fully understand how the HIA process may or may not promote democratic values and protect community health interests. It employs a multi-case study design that uses qualitative content analysis to trace community health interests through the HIA process, HIA document, and target plan. It finds that while the field is overstating the participatory nature of HIA, commitments to health equity and broad determinants of health protect community health interests with and without robust engagement of community stakeholders. The case studies are (1) Clark County, Washington Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, (2) Lake Merritt BART Station Area Plan in Oakland, CA, and (3) I-710 Corridor Project connecting the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, CA.

  • Record URL:
  • Summary URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Portland State University

    Center for Urban Studies, P.O. Box 751
    Portland, OR  United States  97207-0751

    National Institute for Transportation and Communities

    Portland State University
    P.O. Box 751
    Portland, OR  United States  97207

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Iroz-Elardo, Nicole
  • Publication Date: 2014-5


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 257p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01642847
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NITC-D-715
  • Created Date: Jul 31 2017 5:26PM