Health impact assessments (HIAs) conducted in the United States have not extensively involved the maternal and child health (MCH) workforce, but they do regularly incorporate MCH-relevant content, according to a study led by Georgia Health Policy Center researchers. The study, published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal, finds that HIAs provide an action-oriented framework for MCH professionals to become involved in cross-sector collaboration to improve health equity.
HIAs bring health perspectives into non-health decision-making by determining the potential effects of a proposed policy, plan, program, or project on the health of a population. The researchers reviewed 350 HIAs conducted since 2010 and voluntarily housed in the Health Impact Project repository.
This analysis, conducted in partnership with the National MCH Workforce Development Center, shows that almost one quarter of HIAs included MCH-focused stakeholders and 42% focused on MCH populations. Most HIAs (90%) included metrics or content relevant to at least one of 15 Title V MCH National Performance Measure. As might be expected, HIAs that included MCH stakeholders had seven times the odds of including both a focus on MCH populations and at least one NPM-relevant topic compared to HIAs that did not include MCH stakeholders.
“MCH practitioners recognize the need to engage in cross-sector collaborations to address the root causes of poor health,” says lead author Jimmy Dills. “Intentional involvement of the MCH workforce in HIAs is one opportunity for strategic engagement that aligns practice around shared priorities to promote equity and address structural determinants of health.”
In addition to Jane Branscomb from GHPC, study coauthors include Taylor Lawson, formerly with the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and Amy Mullenix and Kristen Hassmiller Lich, both from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Read the full study here.