Descriptive Epidemiological Measures

  • Denise M. Oleske


This chapter has presented common descriptive measures, namely rates and ratios, useful in planning and evaluating health care services, policies, and programs. Rates are used to identify and prioritize health problems within a population,assess variability of the utilization of health care resources, evaluate progress toward achieving health goals, and propose hypotheses regarding the etiology and control of health problems. Rates also are used to assess health, disease, and exposure patterns and their variability in populations. Ratios aid in evaluating the degree of the relationship between exposure and outcome.Descriptive mea- sures, in general, are useful in identifying the components of the health care system that could be modified to improve the health status of populations. The specific type of epidemiological measure used depends on the objective of the assessment, the nature of the health problem being evaluated, and the type of data available.


Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Adjusted Rate Standard Population Comparison Population Population Attributable Risk 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denise M. Oleske
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Health Systems Management and Preventive MedicineRush UniversityChicago

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