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About Health Statistics

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Health statistics are used to understand risk factors for communities, track and monitor diseases, see the impact of policy changes, and assess the quality and safety of health care.

Health statistics are a form of evidence, or facts that can support a conclusion. Evidence-informed policy-making, "an approach to policy decisions that is intended to ensure that decision making is well-informed by the best available research evidence1," and evidence-based medicine (EBM), or "the conscientious, explicit, judicious and reasonable use of modern, best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients"2 are essential to informing how best to provide health care and promote population health.

Not all evidence is, or should be, equally convincing in the support of a conclusion. Evidence varies in quality and whether it is applicable to a given situation. It is therefore essential that health researchers and policy makers understand how to assess evidence in a systematic way, including how to access transparent, high quality health statistics and information.

Health statistics measure four types of information. The types are commonly referred to as the four Cs: Correlates, Conditions, Care, and Costs. The first section of this course examines each type of information.

About Health Statistics Modules:

  1. Correlates: See how to measure the risk factors and protective factors that impact our health.
  2. Conditions: Learn to assess how often and how badly diseases impact a community.
  3. Care: Dig into how health care is delivered to the communities that need it, to treat disease and illness.
  4. Costs: Get more information on what health care costs, and why.
[1]Oxman, A.D., Laivs, J.N., Lewin, S., and A. Fretheim. SUPPORT Tools for evidence-informed health Policymaking (STP)1: What is evidence-informed policymaking? Health Research Policy and Systems, 7(S1). 2009.
[2]Masic, I., Miokovic, M. and B. Muhamadagic. Evidence Based Medicine- New Approaches and Challenges. Acta Informatica Medica, 16(4). 2008.
To learn more about evidence-based medicine, visit the National Library of Medicine’s online course on Health Technology Assessment and “Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice tutorials.” Duke University, 2020.

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Last Reviewed: May 11, 2020