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Overall health status

Public health professionals use measures of health status to gauge the overall health of communities. Examples of summary measures of health include:
  • General health status and healthy days measures from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) surveys
  • Life expectancy
  • Years of potential life lost (YPLL)
Measures of general health status provide information on the health of a population as a whole.
These measures help identify specific health issues, so they can be addressed within the community. They also provide a way to monitor trends over time and compare trends with other communities.
Health Status Ranking Several measures of health status are used to understand the health of a population because no single measure can completely incorporate all aspects of health and mortality.

Self-reported health (SRH) indicates perceived well-being and can highlight disparities within the population1.
SRH is an independent predictor of important health outcomes including mortality (death), morbidity (disease), and functional status. It is considered to be a reliable indicator of a person's perceived health and is a good overall assessment of a person's well-being.

Life expectancy at birth is the number of years an average newborn is expected to live.
Life expectancy is based on whether that newborn were to experience the current mortality rates for the community into which they were born2. Calculations are based on the assumption that future mortality rates at each age will remain exactly as they are today. Life expectancy at birth summarizes mortality risk and trends across all age groups.

Years of potential life lost (YPLL) is a summary measure of premature mortality (early death).
It represents the total number of years not lived by people who die before they reach a given age. Deaths among young people contribute more to the YPLL measure than deaths among older people. YPLL is based on the number of deaths at each age up to some limit. For example, the age limit is placed at 75 for calculations on this website, so people who die before age 75 are defined as having lost some potential years of life.

Works Cited

1. Quality of Life. Peterson-Kaiser. retrieved December 27, 2018

2. Boothe VL, Fierro LA, Laurent A, Shih M. Sub-County Life Expectancy: A Tool to Improve Community Health and Advance Health Equity. Prev Chronic Dis 2018;15:170187. DOI:
Summary measures of health attempt to identify populations at higher risk of disease or who experience higher rates of mortality.
Summary measures of health can help public health professionals understand what factors (e.g., education, housing, transportation, etc.) contribute to health differences in their state and from there, guide the planning and delivery of community services and support.


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The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Mon, 22 July 2024 14:53:13 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Wed, 26 Jun 2024 10:27:16 MDT