Understanding Patterns and Trends in Health and Illness Among Different Social Groupings

Topics: Mortality rate, Demography, Life expectancy Pages: 7 (2216 words) Published: July 20, 2013
Understanding patterns and trends in health and illness among different social groupings

Measuring health

Statistics regarding health and illness levels are generated by three main groups. These groups are:

* Government: These provide a wide range of current statistics; The Office of National Statistics provides this. They have a hard and electrical copy of such things as GP appointments from surgeries, infant mortality rates, hospital admissions, suicide rates and many other statistics. They analyse this data by age, social class, gender and location of where the data is from and often make a comparison and study if there is a trend. * Academic researchers and other authors: Often from a university, people research contributing to evidence and debate a wide range of issues regarding health and social care. * Charitable organisations and pressure groups: Special interest and charitable groups also produce and publish statistics regarding their area of concern: this information is on-going and up-to-date.

The government also produces statistics for mortality rates, death rates, and morbidity rates, disease of a given period of time. These rates are then compared over a period of time and studied as to whether they have increased or decreased, analysed by social class, age, sex and location.

Specific morbidity rates are measured in the terms of its prevalence. Either disease prevalence, number of cases of a disease in a population during a given period of time, or disease incidence, number of new cases of specific disease occurring in a population during a given period of time. The data for these statistics are collected from appointments from GPs and hospitals.

Mortality rates and the causes of the death are collected from the official and required registration of deaths. Infant mortality rate are especially studied to work out the health and well-being of a society. If the infant mortality rises this indicates that this given location has a poor standard of health and well-being where as if it decreases this is showing it is improving. The reasons for the increases or decreases may lie in the economic or social environment, maybe due to inadequate services of these forms may be available to the expecting mothers.

Difficulties in measuring health

Many problems occur when measuring health due to the statistics involved. Arising problems when collecting data which is secondary data is the reliability of this. If the data is from the internet, which nowadays is so often used, a number of questions are asked such as: is this data real? How was the data collected? Has it been altered to suite what the person wanted to find? Who collected the data? And also where and when was the data collected? All these left unanswered cause for unrealisable statistics.

As well as this, primary data can also be a cause for problem as the official sources may not provide an accurate representation of the pattern regarding health and illness. This has been said due to different opinions on illness, some people do not go to seek medical advice when they are ill and some people go when they are in fact not ill at all; this causes for incorrect data collection and incorrect statistics on health and illness. Doctors can also have different ideas, such as two people which have the same symptoms may be diagnosed by two different doctors with two different illnesses. This will distort the figures of the people with specific illness. Regarding this Ken Browne explained in 2006 a framework involving at least four stages these are:

Stage 1: individuals must first realise that they are they have a form of problem either physically or mentally Stage 2: they must decide whether their problem is serious enough to seek advice from a health professional Stage 3: they will go seek this advice

Stage 4: the health professional must then decide whether this person’s mental or medical problem has a label of illness that...
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