What Factors May Influence Variability in Health Outcomes
Health indicators often help us to understand the goals of national health care systems (Broyles, 2006). However, different parts of the world have different health outcomes. Many reasons may explain the variations. For example, economic factors explain variations in health outcomes between poor and wealthy nations (Broyles, 2006). Particularly, they influence access to health care and the quality of health care services offered to patients. Consequently, the same factors affect health morbidity and mortality rates. Similar to economic differences, environmental factors, such as exposure to pollutants and violence, also affect health outcomes (Donohoe, 2012). Here, people’s exposures to negative environmental factors often cause poor health outcomes. Lastly, education also affects health outcomes by changing people’s risk behaviors that either predispose them to diseases, or protects them from suffering from the same (Donohoe, 2012). Collectively, education, economic differences, and environmental factors are some causes of variability in health outcomes.
How Statistics may Influence Variability in Health Outcomes
Similar to other social and economic indicators of community well-being, experts rank health outcomes, according to different levels of performance (Gerzoff & Williamson, 2001). Often, statisticians oversimplify complicated data into easy to understand figures. While this process may help people to comprehend the performance of health outcomes, it overlooks the reliability and validity of the health statistics, through varying confidence levels (Wilson, 1942). Unsurprisingly, Gerzoff and Williamson (2001) say statistics influence variability in health outcomes by explaining the significance of health data to different population groups. Statistics may affect different health outcomes. For example, government agencies use statistics to allocate resources. This process may affect health outcomes. Illustratively, places that have adequate resources enjoy better health outcomes, as opposed to places that do not have many resources. Statistics also help us to understand measures of progress, thereby helping health practitioners to improve their understanding of the health needs that characterize a population (Broyles, 2006). In this regard, such efforts improve the health outcomes of the target population. Since statistics are mainly population-based, they help health workers to understand the health conditions, diagnoses, and procedures that affect a population (thereby reducing health inequalities and inequities that may characterize the population). Collectively, these dynamics show how statistics may influence variations in health outcomes.
Two Social Determinants of Health, which Support the Above Stated Factors
Education: Statistics about the educational status of a demographic could influence health interventions directed at a community (Donohoe, 2012). For example, if statistics reveal there are many illiterate people in the community, the need for health education emerges to reduce risk behaviors that could increase the incidence of diseases and health conditions. For example, ignorance about HIV transmission between mothers and babies could decline if mothers are taught how not to transmit the virus to their children. Such an attempt would improve the health outcomes of the community. However, for the health workers to do this, they need to have adequate information about such a community through statistical analyses.
Unemployment: High unemployment rates could lead to negative health outcomes through increased stress levels, poor access to health care services, and similar factors. To change these negative health outcomes into positive health outcomes, it is important to create policy changes that would reduce unemployment. However, it would be difficult to do so without statistics that explain the correlation between unemployment rates and poor health outcomes. This information would be instrumental in steering policy-makers in the right direction. In this regard, statistics influence health outcomes at different levels.
Broyles, R. (2006). Fundamentals of Statistics in Health Administration. New York, NY: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Donohoe, M. (2012). Public Health and Social Justice. London, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Gerzoff, R. B., & Williamson, G. D. (2001). Who’s number one? The impact of variability on rankings based on public health indicators. Public Health Reports, 116(2), 158–164.
Wilson, E. B. (1942). Mathematics: On confidence intervals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 28(3), 88-93.