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What is and how to conduct a Health Assessment?

Updated on February 28, 2015

Health Assessments Do Not have to be Overbearing

Health assessments are often looked at as big events that take a lot of time and effort to conduct, recommend improvements and change the discrepancies. Although thorough assessments will always continue to intense, you can lessen the intensity by having smaller and simpler assessments on a normal basis.

Creating a simple assessment can point out small problems before they become large and can get you on a set schedule that includes good health and safety habits. Getting into a routine will help you, students, employees and organizational management maintain a clean and safe environment.

The following assessments will help you establish one that is tailored to your organization. If you would like help establishing a health assessment or would like yours reviewed for free, please contact lensemaster OUTFOXprevention or email

OUTFOX obesity and other health issues
OUTFOX obesity and other health issues

Health Impact Assessment

Information Sourced from

Doctors advise their patients on how they can stay healthy. In many ways, Health Impact Assessment (HIA) provides the same advice to communities. This advice helps communities make informed choices about improving public health through community design.

HIA is a process that helps evaluate the potential health effects of a plan, project or policy before it is built or implemented. An HIA can provide recommendations to increase positive health outcomes and minimize adverse health outcomes. HIA brings potential public health impacts and considerations to the decision-making process for plans, projects, and policies that fall outside the traditional public health arenas, such as transportation and land use.

The National Research Council defines HIA as "a systematic process that uses an array of data sources and analytic methods, and considers input from stakeholders to determine the potential effects of a proposed policy, plan, program, or project on the health of a population and the distribution of those effects within the population. HIA provides recommendations on monitoring and managing those effects."

The major steps in conducting an HIA include

-Screening (identifying plans, projects or policies for which an HIA would be useful),

-Scoping (identifying which health effects to consider),

-Assessing risks and benefits (identifying which people may be affected and how they may be affected),

-Developing recommendations (suggesting changes to proposals to promote positive health effects or to minimize adverse health effects),

-Reporting (presenting the results to decision-makers), and

-Monitoring and evaluating (determining the effect of the HIA on the decision).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends HIA as a planning resource for implementing Healthy People 2020. HIA supports two key directions of the Office of the Surgeon General's National Prevention Strategy: Building Healthy and Safe Community Environments and Empowering People to Make Healthy Choices [PDF - 4.67 MB]. The CDC Recommendations for Improving Health through Transportation states that HIA may be a useful tool for identifying the impact of a new policy, program, or major transportation project on community and individual health. The 2011 CDC co-sponsored National Research Council report Improving Health in the United States: The Role of Health Impact Assessment found that the HIA holds promise for incorporating aspects of health into decision-making because of its

-Applicability to a broad array of policies, programs, plans, and projects;

-Consideration of adverse and beneficial health effects;

-Ability to consider and incorporate various types of evidence; and

-Engagement of communities and stakeholders in a deliberative process.

HIA is different from a public health assessment, a health risk assessment, and an environmental impact assessment. The differences are explained here. HIA is usually voluntary, though several local and state laws support the examination of health impacts in decision-making and a few explicitly require the use of the HIA.

HIA is different from a public health assessment, a health risk assessment, and an environmental impact assessment. The differences are explained here.

Outside the United States, HIA is more widely used; some countries have mandated HIA as part of a regulatory process. In the United States, HIA is a rapidly emerging practice among local, state, and federal jurisdictions, mostly on a voluntary basis. A list of more than 150 HIAs completed or in progress in the United States is available at

HIA can be a valuable tool for use in a Health in All Policies approach to decision-making. Examples can be found in the California Executive Order on Health in All Policies and Collins J, Koplan JP. Health impact assessment: a step toward health in all policies [PDF - 126 KB] JAMA. 2009; 302(3):315-317.

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Teacher Health Assessment Checklist

Use the checklist to gauge your hygiene efforts

The following checklist is geared for teachers or school administrators. Go through the questions to determine if your classroom is prepared to provide optimal safety and health conditions. This list is not comprehensive, but should be used to elicit more questions.

If you any questions to add, please message OUTFOXprevention or email

-Have you assessed the classroom based on potential risks (contamination, slip and fall, etc.)?

-Have you analyzed the student group to determine the best way to approach infection control and hygiene (i.e. based on age, maturity, gender, economic status, parent involvement, etc.)

-Do you know and work with the School Nurse?

-Do you know the procedures to admit students to the School Nurse?

-Do you have a hand washing station?

o -Running water

o -Soap

o -Disposable towels

-Do you have an alcohol rub for quick sanitation of hands?

-Do you have posters hanging to remind students

-Do you have signs about hygiene?

-Do you hold lessons about germs and the effects of students not covering their mouth and nose during sneezes and coughs.

-Do you have readily available tissues for students to use?

-Have you had games that engage the student and teach correct hygiene and infection control principles?

-Do you plan constructive activities that students can take for reminders at home?

-Do you work with parents and guardians to help reinforce hygiene principles?

-Do you have your students screened on a normal basis?

-Do you keep up to date on the students immunization statuses?

-Have you brought in community partners to emphasize health (i.e. invite nurses, doctors, dentists, hygienists, etc. to speak)?

-Do you use positive reinforcement to increase the likelihood of the students repeating good hygiene habits?

-Do you maintain a wash schedule (i.e. before class, before and after recess, before and after lunch, etc.)?

Prevention is key to reduce illness, disease, accidents and other safety issues.

Personal Health Assessments
Personal Health Assessments

Conducting Personal Health Assessments

Information Sourced from

Instructions to conduct individual health assessments


Start the assessment plan by stating the reason, or "indication", for the assessment. For example, emergency staff assessing a patient's mental health usually begin by identifying the event or situation that brought the patient to the hospital. It could be that the patient suddenly seems out of touch with reality or has stated a desire to commit suicide.


Continue the assessment with specifics on the patient's behavior. For mental health assessments, the doctors at suggest the assessor report the patient's posture, gait, facial expressions, ability to make eye contact with staff and the patient's attention span.


Observe the patient as you prepare the assessment. Then record the patient's motor level---whether it is normal or hyperactive---and any noteworthy mannerisms, such as pacing or hand wringing.


Ask the patient questions about his or her medical history. Find out whether the patient's parents are still alive. If they are, find out their ages and their state of health. If they aren't, find out how they died and the cause of their death as well as their age at death.


Find out whether the patient has been involved in an accident, either recently or within the past year. This is important for patients at pain management clinics. For example, if a patient comes to the clinic complaining of back pain, a nurse will ask whether the patient has injured his or her back in a motor vehicle or work place accident.


Discuss the patient's recreational activities which might be contributing to a pain syndrome. For example, if a patient complains of knee pain or stiffness, doctors at the Pain Management Clinic at UC Irvine will ask whether he or she runs regularly or takes part in sports since both activities can lead to muscular complaints.


Notice how the patient answers your questions, which is especially important for mental health assessments. Doctors at use an assessment plan form that considers the speed of the patient's speech and the patient's thought processes as he or she is responding to questions. For example, does the patient's response seem logical and coherent or does it seem the patient is rambling on about a variety of topics that have nothing to do with the subject of the question?


Collect historical data from the patient that seems relevant to their current medical complaints. For example, when patients present to the vaccination clinic in Santa Barbara County, the Public Health Department there completes a health assessment that asks whether the patient has had autoimmune diseases, serious skin conditions or burns, is undergoing cancer treatment, has been pregnant and whether the patient is currently nursing.


Finish the assessment plan by identifying who made the assessment. The assessor should also sign and date the form.

Read more: How to Make a Health Assessment Plan |

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