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From 2010 through 2013, the Oregon Health Authority's Public Health Division conducted its first health impact assessment (HIA), a process in which a public health organization draws on an array of analytical techniques to gauge the likely health effects of a policy or proposal in another sector (in this instance, the HIA examined the potential effects of wind farms which constituted a large and growing element of the state's alternative energy strategy on residents' health). After situating the HIA in the context of the state's health in all policies approach (which calls for public health to deepen its connection to other sectors), the case captures the genesis of the HIA, the implementation process, and the response following its publication. The case focuses on how the public health division's relatively small staff managed the HIA's surprisingly large workload and how the public health team worked to incorporate the perspectives of a diverse and sometimes opposed set of stakeholders, most notably grassroots opposition groups and representatives of the renewable energy sector.

Learning Objective:
This case exposes students to the challenges of assessing new and potentially transformative public policies involving multiple stakeholders and interest groups from both within and outside of government. It prompts students to consider the experience of public health authorities in Oregon as they developed and carried out their first health impact assessment, which examined the health effects of wind energy farms--a potentially attractive source of alternative energy--on local residents.

Other Details

Case Author:
David Tannenwald
Faculty Lead:
Arnold Howitt
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation