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HSC CORE 1: Health Priorities

How are priority issues for Australias health identified?

Measuring Health Status

- Role of epidemiology
- Measures of epidemiology (mortality, infant mortality, morbidity, life

Measuring Health Status

- Health status is a term used to describe the current state of health of

an individual, group or population
- In order to measure there are various traditional tools used such as;
Infant mortality
Life expectancy

Role of Epidemiology

Epidemiology the study of disease in groups or populations through

collection of data and information to identify patterns and causes

- Epidemiology is used by governments and health related

organisations to obtain a picture of the health status of a population
and analyse how health services and facilities are being used

Epidemiology considers the patterns of disease in terms of;

Prevalence (number of cases of disease in a population at a
specific time)
Incidence (the number of new cases of disease occurring in a
Distribution (the extent)
Apparent Causes (determinants and indicators)

What can epidemiology tell us?

- Describe and compare the patterns of health of groups, communities
and populations
- Identify health needs and allocate health-care resources accordingly for
the future
- Evaluate health behaviours and strategies to control and prevent
- Identify and promote behaviours that can improve the health status of
the overall population, such as eating less fat and more fibre.

Epidemiology commonly uses statistics on:

Disease incidence
Disease prevalence
Contact with health-care providers
Hospital use (treatment received in hospitals for medical problems)
Injury incidence
Work days lost
Money spent on health care.

Measures of epidemiology (mortality, infant mortality, morbidity,

life expectancy)

Mortality (The number of deaths of a specific group in a specific

time period)
- Death rates can also be age standardised to account for different age
structures within different populations
In Australia overall main causes of death are cardiovascular
diseases, cancers and respiratory diseases.
Other leading diseases such as heart disease, strokes are on the

Infant Mortality (refers to the number of deaths which occurred in the

first year of life and expressed as number of deaths per 1000 births)
- Important in determining a nations health status as per the future
- Divided into 2
Neonatal deaths in the first 28 days of life
Post Neonatal deaths in the rest of the first year of life

- In Australia rate has reduced due to various factors;

Improved medical diagnosis and treatment of illness
Improved sanitation, support services and health education

Morbidity (refers to the rates of illness and disease)

- Data describes the number of existing cases of a condition
- Incidence is a measure used to describe the number of new cases in
- Also short and long term conditions eg. Arthritis

Life Expectancy (refers to the average number of years of predicted life a

person has remaining at a specified age,)
- Calculated mostly at birth but also at ages 30,65 and 85

Do they measure everything about health status?

Due to the complex nature of health it is difficult for epediomology
to measure it as it is quantitaviley calculated. As a result it does
not take into account the social determinants, which are
vital components of the overall health of an individual.
Aspects which are difficult to measure
- Reasons for risk behaviours
- Quality of life
- Best way to spend limited funds on health

use tables and graphs from health reports to analyse

current trends in life expectancy and major causes of
morbidity and mortality for the general population and
comparing males and females