Measuring the health of populations: explaining composite indicators

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Adnan A. Hyder (1*)Prasanthi Puvanachandra (2)Richard H. Morrow (3)

1 Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, United States.
2 Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, United States.
3 Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, United States

Abstract

Indicators that summarise the health status of a population and that provide comparable measures of a population disease burden are increasingly vital tools for health policy decision making. Decisions concerning health systems across the world are greatly affected by changes in disease profiles and population dynamics, and must develop the capacity to respond to such changes effectively within the resources of each nation. Decisions must be based on evidence of the patterns of diseases, their risk factors and the effectiveness of alternative interventions. This paper focuses on the main approaches used for developing summary measures that include mortality and morbidity occurring in a population. It discusses the rationale for composite measures and reviews the origins of each main approach. The paper also examines methodological differences among these approaches making explicit the value choices that each entails, outlines the advantages and limitations of each measure, and shows how they relate to one another.
Author Biographies
Adnan A. Hyder, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Director, Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit;

Professor, Department of International Health

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Prasanthi Puvanachandra, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Assistant Scientist, Department of International Health

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Richard H. Morrow, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Professor, Department of International Health

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

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