The concept of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) refers to perceived physical and mental health over time. Physicians use HRQOL to measure the effects of chronic illness in their patients to better understand how an illness interferes with a person's day-to-day life. Similarly, public health professionals use HRQOL to measure the effects of diseases, disorders, and disabilities in populations. Tracking population HRQOL can identify subgroups with poor physical or mental health and can help guide policies or interventions to improve their health.
Four standard Healthy Days measures, recently recommended as overarching chronic disease indicators by the Conference of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and its partners, are being used as long-term outcome measures for the Healthier Worksite Initiative. The four questions asked in our employee survey are:
- Would you say that in general your health is
b. Very good
d. Fair or
- Now thinking about your physical health, which includes physical illness and injury, for how many days during the past 30 days was your physical health not good?
- Now thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression, and problems with emotions, for how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?
- During the past 30 days, for about how many days did poor physical or mental health keep you from doing your usual activities, such as self-care, work, or recreation?
Armed with this information we can track over time how CDC employees Healthy Days compare with baseline data and how they compare with data collected nationally. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time HRQOL/Healthy Days has been used as an outcome measure in a workforce setting. However, HRQOL is now being used to evaluate health outcomes for a variety of chronic diseases that have significant workforce implications, such as diabetes, arthritis, and mental health.