Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 91, Issue 2, pp 148–152 | Cite as

Using Healthy Life Years (HeaLYs) to Assess Programming Needs in a Public Health Unit

  • JoAnn D. HealeEmail author
  • Thomas J. Abernathy
  • Douglas Kittle


In December 1997, public health units in Ontario received revised mandatory program guidelines from the Ministry of Health in advance of the downloading of public health to municipalities. Public health units face difficult decisions in allocating municipal resources to meet the Province’s mandated programs. To set priorities for resource allocation, it is critical to assess need across program areas and to use a common unit in doing so. This paper applies the Healthy Life Years (HeaLYs) method in assessing health need related to the mandatory programs for the population of Wellington and Dufferin counties in Ontario. The HeaLYs method incorporates duration and severity of illhealth, incidence and mortality in calculating years of healthy life lost (YHLL). For Wellington-Dufferin, the leading causes of YHLL were concentrated in the program areas of chronic disease, injury, and substance abuse and included four areas not addressed in the MPG (suicide, depression, dementia, and osteoarthritis).


En décembre 1997, les services de santé publique ontariens ont reçu les critères obligatoires révisés des programmes du ministère de la Santé en prévision du transfert de la santé publique aux municipalités. Les services de santé publique, qui doivent répartir les ressources municipales entre les programmes provinciaux obligatoires, sont confrontés à des décisions difficiles. Pour fixer les priorités en la matière, ils doivent absolument évaluer les besoins des divers secteurs de programme et utiliser un indicateur commun. Le présent article porte sur la méthode des années de vie en santé (AVS), qui a permis d’évaluer les besoins de santé de la population des comtés ontariens de Wellington et de Dufferin par rapport aux programmes obligatoires. La méthode des AVS tient compte de la durée et de la gravité des maladies, de leur incidence et du taux de mortalité pour calculer les années de vie en santé perdues (AVSP). Pour Wellington-Dufferin, on a recensé les principales causes d’AVSP essentiellement dans les secteurs de programme des maladies chroniques, des blessures et de la toxicomanie, mais aussi dans quatre secteurs non visés par les critères obligatoires des programmes (le suicide, la dépression, la démence et l’ostéoarthrose).


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Ontario Ministry of Health. Mandatory Health Programs and Services Guidelines. Toronto: Ontario Ministry of Health, Public Health Branch, 1997.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Needs/Impact-Based Planning Committee. A Guide to Needs/Impact-Based Planning. Toronto: Ontario Ministry of Health, Information, Planning and Evaluation Branch, 1996.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Murray CJL, Lopez AD (Eds) The Global Burden of Disease, Global Burden of Disease and Injury Series, Volume I. United States: World Health Organization and Harvard School of Public Health, 1996.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Murray CJL, Lopez AD (Eds) The Global Health Statistics, Global Burden of Disease and Injury Series, Volume II. United States: World Health Organization and Harvard School of Public Health, 1996.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hyder AA, Rotllant G, Morrow, RH. Measuring the burden of disease: Healthy Life-Years. Am J Public Health 1998;88(2);196–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hyder AA, Morrow, RH. Steady state assumptions in DALYs: Effect on estimates of HIV impact. J Epidemiol Commun Health 1999;53:43–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation. Cancer in Ontario 1994–1995. Toronto: OCTRF, 1998 (1995 cancer incidence downloaded from secure website at Scholar
  8. 8.
    Reportable Disease Information System (RDIS). Incidence and Age at Incidence Ad Hoc Report, 1995. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit, 1998.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Provincial Health Planning Database. Ministry of Health, Integrated Policy and Planning Branch, 1998. (An electronic, data warehouse accessible to trained, licensed users in health intelligence units, district health councils, and public health units in Ontario.)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ontario Ministry of Finance. Population Projections — 1991–2021. Toronto: Ontario Ministry of Finance, 1996.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Morrow, RD. Revisions to HeaLYs formulation electronic files. Johns Hopkins University, December 1998 (personal communication).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ontario Trauma Registry. Minimal Data Set, Provincial Annual Report, 1995 Data. Don Mills: Canadian Institute for Health Information. November 1996.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • JoAnn D. Heale
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas J. Abernathy
    • 1
  • Douglas Kittle
    • 2
  1. 1.Central West Health Planning Information NetworkHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health DepartmentGuelphCanada

Personalised recommendations