HIA: Data User Guide
This guide provides step-by-step instructions about how to access and use data from the Minnesota Tracking Program to conduct a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) using the Data Access portal.
New to HIA practices? Get background information about HIAs.
Tracking data may be used to inform any of the six steps for conducting an HIA, but this guide focuses on three specific steps:
- Scoping - explore health and environment issues of potential interest
- Assessment - assess a baseline for conditions, refine priorities, inform communities, make projections or estimates about trends
- Monitoring & Evaluation - evaluate the effects of a decision, policy, or action over time; pre- and post-implementation
Scoping defines what the assessment will address, including:
- Geographic and temporal boundaries
- Health issues
- Potentially affected populations
- Data sources
Scoping helps create a viable work plan and timeline. This step is usually informed by the concerns identified during the stakeholder process, by professional, by expert opinion, and by relevant health literature.
For more information about:
- Engaging stakeholders, see Stakeholder Engagement Tools and Materials for Health Impact Assessments from the Society of Practitioners of Health Impact Assessment.
- Conducting HIAs, see MDH's Health Impact Assessment and CDC’s Health Impact Assessment websites.
The Tracking Network can be useful for two specific parts of the scoping step:
Pathway diagrams: A central task of scoping is determining how the decision or project can impact health. Pathway diagrams, which illustrate the steps from decision to health outcome, help identify health effects and benefits. Data can be used to assess these effects by providing baseline information about health status in a community, or by predicting effects and benefits from a policy, plan, or project.
Identifying research questions and data sources: Another key task of scoping is identifying the research questions, data sources, and analytic methods that will be used.
See more on scoping and pathways from Human Impact Partners Introduction to HIA (PDF).
Tracking Network data may be used to evaluate the health effects and benefits of a plan, project, program, or policy by:
- Assessing baseline health conditions
- Identifying and characterizing vulnerable populations, health disparities, and health inequities
- Evaluating the direction and magnitude of potential health effects due to changes in exposure or actions to protect health
For example, HIA practitioners and communities may want to know more about asthma in a particular area. The National Tracking Network can provide data about asthma hospitalizations and emergency department visits at state and county levels to establish a baseline health estimate and provide information on the region of interest. State and local tracking programs also may have asthma data at enhanced levels of geography, such as ZIP code.
Assessment also may include projections to evaluate the direction and magnitude of potential health effects due to changes in exposure or actions to protect health. Tracking data may be used in quantitative or qualitative assessments to make informed projections based on trends over time.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Updated on an ongoing basis, Tracking Network data are especially useful for monitoring and evaluating actions and decisions over time. For example, use Tracking data to evaluate progress pre- and post-implementation of the HIA decision or action. Furthermore, Tracking Network data are developed to be nationally consistent which helps compare one area or population with another.