Measuring Health Status

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Health Status: a term used to describe the state of an individual/community. Measured against an identifiable standard


Role of Epidemiology

What is Epidemiology?

  • The study of patterns of sickness and death of the population
  • It provides information on the distribution (patterns) of disease, illness and injury and the likely causes

Measures Of Epidemiology

  • Life Expectancy: the average number of years a person of a given age and gender is expected to live
  • Mortality Rates: death rates – a measure of the number of deaths from a specific cause in a given period of time (usually a year)
  • Infant Mortality Rates: measure of annual deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births
  • Age-specific Mortality Rate: number of deaths to specific age groups in a year per 1000
  • Morbidity Rates: measures of the level of disease and sickness in a society.
    • Prevalence: the number of cases of the disease combined
    • Incidence: The number of new cases over a set period of time.

What can Epidemiology Tell Us?

  • Monitoring the major causes of sickness and death to identify any emerging issues or inequalities
  • Identifying areas of need so prevention and treatment interventions can be targeted
  • Determining priority areas for the allocation of government funding
  • Monitoring the use of health care services and facilities
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of any prevention and treatment programs

Who uses Epidemiology?

  • Policy Developers at all levels of Government
  • The manufacturers of health products
  • The providers of health services
  • Individual consumers

Do they measure everything about health status?

  • No, Epidemiology is simply a study of the patterns of health not total health. It has been challenged as focusing mostly on the physical health issues.
    • Doesn’t explain socio-cultural factors
    • Doesn’t take into account influencing factors like social factors
    • Doesn’t show variations between population sub groups
    • Doesn’t evaluate quality of life

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