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Practical Applications

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HRQOL is more likely than other health outcomes to reflect broad consequences of illness, disease or injury, and the consequences of social and environmental influences on health. In many cultures, a quality-of-life focus could offer a unifying theme for diverse health and social service programs as well as economic programs which aim to improve population well-being. Such a focus can also help to ensure that mental health issues that are often ignored or inadequately considered in health status and productivity measures will be addressed. Asking about recent physical and mental health may capture a large proportion of the concerns people have about the quality of their life as it relates to their health. This is a simple but powerful way of broadening the scope of public health to include psychosocial aspects that are now recognized as important to the health and productivity of the population.

How are the Healthy Days measures useful at the state and local levels?

Since 1993, CDC, states, and others have demonstrated the usefulness of HRQOL measures in identifying vulnerable population subgroups and in community health assessments (e.g., the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Health Status Indicators Project; the University of Wisconsin’s Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health Project). Adding HRQOL indicators in community health assessment studies can offer health agencies outcomes that are meaningful to the broad community, identify population disparities in HRQOL, and help prioritize subgroups with unmet needs to improve community quality of life. Because the actions of many groups in a community may affect HRQOL, successful interventions and healthy public policies require active partnerships with multiple community members including the business community, departments of transportation, education, and public safety, health care communities and non-profit groups.

State and Community Health Profiles/Reports

The Institute of Medicine provides a guide, Improving Health in the Community that describes the use of community indicators and performance monitoring to improve community health. The guide also provides tools to help communities develop their own performance indicators. CDC's Healthy Days Measures are included among the IOM's suggested community performance indicators.

In 2008, the Institute of Medicine provided guidance to the State of the USA (SUSA) on 20 key health indicators to be used to assess health by geography and key demographic groups in the US. Taken together, the selected indicators reflect the overall health of the nation and the efficiency and efficacy of U.S. health systems. The twenty measures include the CDC Healthy Days measure.

Below are links to several state and county health departments, and several private and nonprofit organizations that have used CDC's Healthy Days Measures as community health status indicators.

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