Policy and Practical Implications of HRQOL Surveillance


What are the policy implications of HRQOL surveillance?

The Healthy Days measures consistently reflect population differences in educational level, household income, employment status, marital status, chronic diseases, and disability.

The Healthy Days measures assess the burden of physical and mental health problems that are not disease-specific. Data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics and the Healthy Days measures have been used to quantify perceived physical and mental health disparities among population subgroups on the basis of gender, race or ethnicity, education, income, and place of residence. Therefore, health planners and policy makers can use the measures and resulting data to help allocate resources among competing health programs on the basis of several criteria including the burden of impaired HRQOL in a specific group. Because of their sensitivity to time trends, the Healthy Days measures are also likely to be useful in determining the effect of major population-based policies or interventions.

Elderly people swimming

In 2008, the Institute of Medicine provided guidance to the State of the USA (SUSA)External on 20 key health indicators to be used to assess health by geography and key demographic groups in the United States. 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.

Why is HRQOL surveillance important for Healthy People 2020?

Healthy People 2020External, developed with leadership of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is the nation’s prevention agenda with a scorecard to assess progress toward meeting goals (Framework Cdc-pdf[PDF-253KB]External). Two of the four overarching goals for Healthy People 2020 are directly related to quality of life: 1) attain high quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death and 2) promote quality of life, healthy development and healthy behaviors across all life stages. By continuously tracking population HRQOL in public health surveillance systems, the Healthy Days measures can monitor the nation’s and states’ progress toward meeting these quality of life goals. A third overarching goal for Healthy People 2020 is to eliminate health disparities.Healthy Days measures can be used to track progress in eliminating health disparities.

How can an HRQOL surveillance support community mobilization?

Both the DHHS Community Health Status Indicators project and the University of Wisconsin’s Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) project have included the Healthy Days measures in their community- and county-level health rankings to monitor and improve population health over time. For example, local community leaders from a wide variety of sectors use County Health Rankings as call to action for communities. Community members then identify evidence-informed health policies and programs that can be implemented locally (effective programs and policies can be found on the County Health Rankings websiteExternal).

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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