National Academy of Medicine

Ounces of Prevention: Health Impact Assessments Can Help Improve Public Policy, Health Outcomes

By Aaron Wernham
January 11, 2013 | Commentary

When I was a resident, I cared for an asthmatic boy who had been in and out of the hospital 3 times in 8 weeks. Each time, we sent him home with an escalating regimen of medications, and each time, his symptoms only worsened. After his mother told me that they lived in a run-down apartment with dusty carpeting and mold-ridden walls, I remember asking the attending physician, only half joking, whether there was a way to write a prescription for a new apartment.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.