Protocol development in assessment design
If an assessment is deemed useful and feasible, then a detailed assessment protocol needs to be developed, setting out the scenario, data and methods to be applied. This not only helps the assessors, but also makes sure that the process is transparent, by providing an explicit and public document against which the final assessment can be compared.
The nature of this document will vary, depending on the issue and the type of assessment.
In most cases, however, it should give detailed specification of all of the following:
- the study areas and populations that the assessment will cover;
- the scenarios on which the assessment will be based;
- the timescales (exposure periods, impact periods) to which the assessment will relate;
- the causal factors, exposure pathways and health outcomes that will be assessed;
- the health effects and associated impacts that will be included in the assessment;
- the outcome indicators that will be used to represent the results;
- the data sources and models that will be used to assess each of these elements;
- the main sources of uncertainty in the assessment, and how these will be quantified or described.
Development of the assessment protocol is, in many ways, an expert process, for it relies on a detailed understanding of the science and of the methodology for impact assessment. To help ensure that it is acceptable to the stakeholders and faithful to the initial issue-framing, it should, however, be developed in consultation with the stakeholders concerned, and ideally should also be reviewed by an independent advisory panel or referees. Likewise, the final protocol should be made readily available (e.g. via circulation to all stakeholders and publication on the web), so that the assessment is open to public scrutiny.)
The atteched document was compiled as part of the EU-funded INTARESE project, which contributed to the development of this Toolbox.
It suggests a general scope and structure for protocols, developed as a basis for environmental health impact assessments. The protocol covers the entire process of the assessment, from detailed specification of the issue and system being analysed, through to dissemination, reporting and verification.
Examples of assessment protocols
As part of the INTARESE project, which contributed to the development of this Toolbox, case studies were undertaken to test and illustrate the methods involved. These addressed the following topics:
- Agricultural land use change
- Climate change
- Domestic water supplies
- Household chemcials
- Waste management
Each of the case studies developed a protocol as part of the Design process. Copies of the protocols can be obtained by clicking on the links below.