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Stakeholders and public should use 20 specific health indicators
Date:12/17/2008

WASHINGTON Policymakers, the media, and the public should focus on 20 specific health indicators as "yardsticks" to measure the overall health and well-being of Americans, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. By providing information that can be compared over time, these 20 indicators will also help Americans track the nation's progress on improving our health and the effectiveness of public health and care systems, the report says.

The indictors are intended for the health section of a new Web site that the nonprofit State of the USA Inc. (SUSA) is building as a tool for measuring and monitoring the nation on several fronts. The site will aim to help people become more-informed and active participants in national discussions about important topics such as health, education, and the environment by giving them a way to measure national progress from year to year and to compare it to that of other countries. Until recently, only researchers and academics have had the capacity for this kind of analysis.

The 20 proposed indicators together provide a broad picture of Americans' health and the nation's health systems. They reflect a range of factors that determine well-being, including how many individuals engage in certain risky or healthy behaviors, how well patients fare from the care they receive, and to what extent health professionals and facilities are meeting specific goals.

SUSA asked IOM to recommend no more than 20 indicators of health, each with a substantial body of high-quality data behind it. Reputable organizations are generating new data on each of these markers annually, providing a reliable means to track changes over time. The data can be sorted by population subgroups or geographic region, allowing detailed analyses and comparisons. For example, one could use the data to compare current rates of obesity in different race and ethnic groups or to track whether the national obesity rate goes
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Contact: Christine Stencel
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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