24 June 2013

USA: Access to paid sick days could reduce influenza

New research, published in the American Journal of Public Health, reveals a reduction in flu cases when access to paid sick days is made available in the workplace. As you might imagine, it would be difficult to quantify the impact of a policy that hasn’t yet been implemented, so the researchers simulated their population of interest—1.2 million “agents” in Allegheny County, in this case—to evaluate the transmission patterns of influenza in workplaces under different scenarios (see below for details of their methods, which may be of interest to HIA researchers).
In a baseline simulation, access to paid sick days was inequitably distributed, as it is in reality. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States shows that only 53% of employees in small workplaces (workplaces with fewer than 50 employees) compared with 85% in large workplaces (workplaces with 500 or more employees) have access to paid sick days. A larger percentage of employees with access to paid sick days stayed home than did employees without paid sick days—both for an average of 1.7 days when sick. They then compared results to the estimated number of flu cases that might result under two alternative scenarios: (1) all employees had access to paid sick days (a universal paid sick days policy); and (2) all employees had access to one or two days when they could stay home from work and be paid to recover from the flu (a “flu days” intervention).
They defined flu days as additional days layered on top of existing paid sick days policies. Flu days were conceptualized as an intervention educating employees to stay home for an additional day over and above what they might anyway. Currently, employees stay home for 1.7 days on average with the flu. With a flu day, they would stay home for 2.7 days on average. In comparison, universal access to paid sick days increases the proportion of people staying home, but (according to their assumptions) does not increase the duration for which employees stay home. In short, universal access to paid sick days increases the probability of workers staying home when ill, and flu days increase the time they spend at home when they are infectious. 
This study found that universal access to paid sick days would reduce flu cases in the workplace by 5.86 percent and a “flu days” intervention would reduce cases by 25.33 percent. Together, universal paid sick days and flu days would equitably and effectively reduce influenza infections in workplaces. The universal paid sick days scenario was estimated to be more effective for small workplaces while “flu days” would lead to fewer flu cases in larger workplaces.
It is as important to test an intervention’s impact on health equity as it is to test its effectiveness. Universal access to paid sick days would enhance equity in the workplace by leveling the playing field in terms of access to resources. Additional interventions that promote employees staying away for more than 1.7 days on average could then be layered on to effectively reduce disease further.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people with influenza stay home for 24 hours after their fever has resolved. However, not everyone is able to follow these guidelines--many more workers in small workplaces than in large ones lack access to paid sick days and hence find it difficult to stay home when ill. These simulations show that allowing all workers access to paid sick days would reduce illness due to workplace transmission—fewer workers get the flu over the course of the season if employees are able to stay home and keep the virus from being transmitted to their co-workers. These findings make a strong case for paid sick days. Future research will be examining the economic impacts of workplace policies.
More on the simulation methods
Agent-based modeling was used to simulate the population of Allegheny County so that they could assess the impact of a paid sick days policy. This is a quantitative technique that is becoming increasingly popular among health behavior researchers, and may be useful to HIA researchers as well. In this case, authors of the study used the Framework for Reconstructing Epidemic Dynamics (FRED), a platform developed at the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh, to simulate the 1.2 million population of the county. Other simpler platforms such as NetLogo have been developed to enable researchers and practitioners to get started with simulating a population of interest.
 A “synthetic population” of Allegheny County was developed by RTI International based on data from the American Community Survey, LandScan USA, and the census; populations for counties and states in the United States and are freely available. This synthetic population ensured that the model reflected reality in ways that were important to this study and to infectious disease spread. For example, agents are assigned to schools or workplaces based on location, size of schools/workplaces, and commuting patterns; and each agent had characteristics including age, sex, race, employment status, household income, and household location. Health information such as health status on each day, infectiousness, and susceptibility were associated with each agent in FRED.
 During each simulated day, children went to school and working adults to work. They interacted with other agents who shared the same social activity locations, and returned home at the end of the day to interact with others at home. Each weekday, this routine repeated. Agents had a probability of disease transmission during interactions with others based on parameters from published studies.

HIA Step by Step - A new online course by the NCCHPP

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is used to inform decision makers about the potential effects of a project, program or policy on the health of a population. HIA of public policies applies to any project, program or policy for which the decision maker is a governmental authority, either at the local, regional, provincial or federal level.
The NCCHPP will offer a new online continuing education course on HIA of public policies starting this fall.
This 12-hour online course will take place over a period of 3 weeks and will be offered both in French and in English.
This course will allow you to become familiar with the HIA process as applied to public policies, recognize its foundations, and reflect on the favorable conditions for successful HIA implementation.
Dates of the online course:
  • in French from October 15 to November 1st 2013 
  • in English from October 21 to November 8, 2013
Registration deadline: October 7, 2013. Places are limited.
For more information, and to register: click here. (http://www.ncchpp.ca/274/Online_Course.ccnpps?id_article=922) 
For any question concerning this new online course, please contact us at the following address: ncchpp_training@inspq.qc.ca or by phone at 514-864-1600 ext. 3637.

11 June 2013

HIA and peer review satisfaction survey

Request below.

Please help move the practice of HIA and peer review forward with your feedback on this survey (5 minutes).
Survey link (google form): http://goo.gl/DN7Tg
We, a group of HIA practitioners, are interested in your experiences of the peer review process in Health Impact Assessment (HIA), as a reviewer and/or as a reviewee. Although HIA practice is not standardized, many HIA practitioners feel some form of peer review to be important in ensuring quality in the HIA process. Your responses to the survey will:
  • help us understand the broad and multiple practices of peer review
  • inform a paper featuring case studies of how practitioners have incorporated peer review within the HIA framework.
For this survey, peer review is defined broadly to include all purposeful activities that contribute to enhancing the quality of an HIA using peer review and feedback. This could range from an informal gathering of “experts” to review the HIA to a formalized double-blind review facilitated by an academic journal. 
Reviewers might be environmental exposure specialists, community leaders, public officials, or others.Please feel free to share with other colleagues who have been a part of the peer review process in HIA.Deadline for responses - August 1st, 2013
For more information, contact Tim Choi at tim.choi@sfdph.org

10 June 2013

Free Webinar: Incorporating Environmental Public Health Tracking into Health Impact Assessments

This looks to be an interesting webinar.

Thursday, 27 June, 2013
13:00 Eastern Daylight Time (18:00 British Summer Time)
Duration 75 minutes

Click here to register

Want to learn how you can leverage data from the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network for health impact assessments (HIA)? Then join us for a co-presentation by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Environmental Public Health Tracking and Climate & Health Programs describing their successful use of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) data in Health Impact Assessments. Speakers will discuss opportunities for intersection between HIA and tracking data and will also provide participants with a national perspective on the uses of health impact assessments and the Tracking Network.  
This is the second in a three-part series of Environmental Public Health Tracking Program webinars co-sponsored by the American Public Health Association, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the National Association of County and City Health Officials.


Chuck Stroebel, MPHProgram ManagerMinnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking ProgramMinnesota Department of Health
Kelly Muellman, MAPlanner Minnesota Climate & Health ProgramMinnesota Department of Health

James S. Blumenstock, MA
Chief Program Officer
Public Health Practice
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
Moderators and Federal Updates:  
Lisa Hines, MPH, CHES
Communications Team Lead
Environmental Health Tracking Branch
Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects
National Center for Environmental Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Arthur Wendel, MD, MPH, CDR USPHS
Team Lead
Healthy Community Design Initiative
Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services
National Center for Environmental Health
Centers for Disease Prevention and Control

5 June 2013

WHO Determinants of Health Discussion Paper Series

This is a WHO publication series devoted to the social determinants of health.

The series explores themes related to strategy, governance, tools and capacity building for addressing the social determinants of health to improve health equity

Action on the Social Determinants of Health: learning from previous experiences
Download discussion paper 1 at: http://bit.ly/14eLnIb

A Conceptual Framework for Action on the Social Determinants of Health
Download discussion paper 2 at: http://bit.ly/ZiWe5j

Monitoring Social Well-being to Support Policies on the Social Determinants of Health:
the case of New Zealand's "Social Reports/Te Purongo Oranga Tangata"
Download discussion paper 3 at: http://bit.ly/12m6FsX

Public Health Agencies and Cash Transfer Programmes:
making the case for greater involvement
Download discussion paper 4 at: http://bit.ly/11AeIe4

Evaluating intersectoral process for action on the social determinants of health:
Learning from key informants
Download discussion paper 5 at: http://bit.ly/10MLZY7

Addressing social determinants of health through intersectoral actions:
Five public policy cases from Mexico
Download discussion paper 6 at: http://bit.ly/15DrU77

Economic arguments for intersectoral interventions that improve the social determinants of health: Mexico
Download discussion paper 7 at: http://bit.ly/18QJus8

Cross-country analysis of the institutionalization of Health Impact Assessment
Download discussion paper 8 at: http://bit.ly/11V2G4Y

4 June 2013

Cross-country analysis of the institutionalization of HIA

Cross-country analysis of the institutionalization of Health Impact Assessment.
Discussion Paper Series 8 (Policy & Practice). Geneva, World Health Organization, 2013
Available online PDF [45p.] at:http://bit.ly/18yCf5y

This report presents the findings of a cross-country study that describes and compares the institutionalization of HIA in nine (mainly middle- and high-income) countries and the European Union. It aims to provide greater insight to the enabling and limiting factors of HIA implementation and institutionalization and concludes with recommendations to increase and improve HIA practice.

The key factors enabling institutionalization of HIA were legislation; political willingness; involvement of research communities; awareness of the inadequacy of Environmental Impact Assessment or other assessments in considering health; capacity and resources; availability of international committal documents and tools; and public participation.

Challenges to institutionalization and systematic implementation included lack of clarity around methodology and procedures; narrow definitions of health; lack of awareness of relevance to other sectors; and insufficient funding and tools.

Based on their experiences, key informants proposed these core recommendations: embed HIA in national normative systems; clarify definition and operationalization of HIA and develop guidelines and methodological criteria; strengthen and build capacity for HIA practice; and improve cooperation between sectors….”

HIA Gateway Monthly Update

HIA of South Lincoln Homes, Denver 

Rapid HIA of Skelmersdale Town Centre Re-Design Proposals 

Exeter Waste to Energy Facility HIA 

Equity-Focused HIA of the Proposed McKays to Peka-Peka Expressway 

HIA of Hartington Cheese Factory site 

Proposed Sugar Sweetened Drinks Tax: HIA 

Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being (OECD) 

Planning for Health Draft Supplementary Planning Document 

Current Use:
Construction That Focuses on Health of Residents 

HIA: a Tool for Promoting Health in All Policies 

Health impact assessment in urban settings 

Theory Issues:
Would You Be Happier Living in a Greener Urban Area? (Journal paper) 

Strategies for effective policy on HIA 

Evidence for HIA:
The wellbeing and resilience paradox (The Young Foundation) 

Would You Be Happier Living in a Greener Urban Area? (Journal paper) 

Health and Spatial Planning: Transport and Health (RTPI) 

Health Impacts of Moving Freight: California 

Proposed Waste to Energy Facility at Poolbeg Peninsula: review of evidence 

Training Courses:
Health economic assessment tools (HEAT) for walking and cycling: online training 24th May, 27th june, 16th July 

Sandwell Health’s Economic Other Summit (SHOES), 13th-14th June, West Bromwich 

Weaving Wellbeing into a Neighbourhood, 21st May, London 

Air Quality and Health Conference, 12th June, Newcastle 

The HIA Bibliography has recently been updated, April 2013, and 50 new references were added. It is updated quarterly. 

1 June 2013

HIA2013 - Deadline for abstracts extended

The deadline for submission of abstracts has been extended to Friday 14 June 2013. All the relevant information is on the website hia2013.net

Get writing!