The twin aims of the Regional Public Health Strategy, Investment for Health are to improve health and reduce inequalities.
Progress towards these aims can be measured using some key indicators. These include:
- Circulatory disease
Mortality rates from these indicators are commonly used as indicators of the health of a population. They have the advantage that they provide generally unambiguous measures of health status and are collected on a consistent basis.
However, it should be remembered that they give an incomplete view of health as in many situations ill health does not lead to premature death.
In recent years in England, average life expectancy has been around 75 years for men and 80 years for women.
Broadly in line with this, deaths before the age of 75 are sometimes referred to as premature deaths.
Given the inevitability of death at some stage, premature death is of particular public health interest in that it generally has a higher degree of prevent ability.
Direct age-standardized mortality rates (DASRs) are used here to compare the mortality experience of different populations:
- Firstly because they facilitate more meaningful comparisons between populations differing in terms of age/sex structure and secondly because they facilitate monitoring of changes over time in the same population.
- Additionally there are a number of self-reported questions on health in the census.
These include asking people to rate their general health, whether they are suffering from a limiting long-term illness and also recorded the number of people, between the ages of 16 to 74 years, who reported that they were economically inactive due to permanent disability or sickness.
This is extremely useful since there is a considerable amount of information on what people die from and why they are admitted to hospital, but there is remarkably little information about other measures of ill health in the general population.