Biology:Health indicator

From HandWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Health indicators are quantifiable characteristics of a population which researchers use as supporting evidence for describing the health of a population. Typically, researchers will use a survey methodology to gather information about certain people, use statistics in an attempt to generalize the information collected to the entire population, and then use the statistical analysis to make a statement about the health of the population.

Health indicators are often used by governments to guide health care policy.


A common example of a health indicator is life expectancy. A government might have a system for collecting information on each citizen's age at the time of death. This data about age at death can be used to support statements about the national life expectancy, in which case life expectancy would be a "health indicator". Life expectancy may be one of many "health indicators" which collectively researchers would use to describe the health of the population of the country.


Health indicators are commonly used to guide public health policy.[1]


A health indicator which will be used internationally to describe global health should have the following characteristics:

  1. It should be defined in such a way that it can be measured uniformly internationally.[2]
  2. It must have statistical validity.[2]
  3. The indicator must be data which can feasibly be collected.[2]
  4. The analysis of the data must result in a recommendation on which people can make changes to improve health[2]

List of health indicators

Health indicators are required in order to measure the health status of people and communities.

Health Indicators

Morbidity indicators

  • Prevalence
  • Incidence
  • Others

Health status

Incidence counts of any of the following in a population may be health indicators:[3]

Disability indicators

  • Disability adjusted life years (DALY)
  • Others: Activities of daily living (ADL), Musculoskeletal disability (MSD) score etc.

Nutritional indicators

  • Proportion of low birth weight
  • Prevalence of anaemia
  • Proportion of overweight individuals
  • Prevalence of underweight among under-fives
  • Prevalence of stunting among under-fives
  • Prevalence of acute malnutrition among under-fives

Social and mental health indicators

  • Alcohol related indicators
  • Injury rates

Health system indicators

  • Healthcare delivery related
  • Health policy indicators
  • Health improvement activities

Health Determinant

  • Smoking habits
  • alcohol consumption habits
  • Physical exercise habits
  • Breastfeeding


Various organizations exist to identify, collect, measure, share, analyze, and publish on the topic of health indicators. Here are some example organizations doing this:


  1. Flowers, J.; Hall, P.; Pencheon, D. (2005). "Mini-symposium — Public Health Observatories". Public Health 119 (4): 239–245. doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2005.01.003. PMID 15733682. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Larson, C.; Mercer, A. (2004). "Global health indicators: An overview". Canadian Medical Association Journal 171 (10): 1199–1200. doi:10.1503/cmaj.1021409. PMID 15534313. 
  3. List items adapted from Statistics Canada (December 2000). "Statistics Canada: Health Indicators - Overview". Retrieved 19 March 2013. 

External links