The Measurement of Health: Concepts and Indicators

The Measurement of Health: Concepts and Indicators

The Measurement of Health: Concepts and Indicators

The Measurement of Health: Concepts and Indicators


As health care costs rise, it becomes imperative that methods of measuring health improve. Only then can health care programs for both populations and individuals be designed effectively. This volume offers a summary of the concepts and indicators in health measurement to date on the international, national, state, and local levels, and proposes new measurement criteria which can serve as a firm basis for further study by researchers, academics, and health professionals.


The measurement of health is a complex affair. First, it requires that decisions be made about the meaning of "health." Then, it requires a choice among the various indicators of health available through vital statistics, government publications, private surveys, and other sources. Also, it requires decisions about the weighting of indicators in forming an overall measurement of health.

This book is devoted to the task of discussing concepts and indicators in health measurement. It is intended not to provide definitive answers concerning health measurement but to lay the groundwork for future research into the health status of populations and individuals. It is meant to aid researchers and academics in studying the topic of health measurement.

This book is intended, also, to aid health planners and health administrators in determining health care needs. By determining the health status of particular populations, planners and administrators are able to allocate scarce resources more efficiently. Efficient allocation is particularly important in a time of rising health care costs, a problem that is likely to continue through the 1990s.

The book consists of seven chapters. Chapter 1 is conceptual in nature, discussing different definitions of health. Five models are presented, the most prominent of which are the medical model and the holistic model. The medical model defines health as the absence of disease and disability, while the holistic model generally defines health as physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease.

In Chapter 2, the measurement of mortality is discussed. In most nations, data on mortality are collected by government agencies, as required by law. The data include measures such as infant mortality and life expectancy.

Chapter 3 discusses the measurement of morbidity (illness) and disability. The measurements of morbidity and disability are more refined than the mortality . . .

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