Tue 23 Jun 2015 4:19AM

General Health Indicator

T Tom (facilitator) Public Seen by 285

There has been some interest in collecting some kind of general health indicator. This thread is for discussion of a general health indicator with particular attention on specifically what need there is for the data and how it would be used.


Frances Horton Tue 23 Jun 2015 9:26AM

Hi Tom, I'm a member of the public and don't use census for data or policy. Just want to suggest that responders to questions about general health may need guidance as to their replies.

Hope that all aspects of health would be covered: psychological, physical, [including dental] and access to GP for primary health care?
If asked, I'd find it difficult to rate my general health. Depends which aspect of my overall health is being examined.


Marion Blake Tue 23 Jun 2015 10:08PM

This is a useful addition as general health and well being is increasingly being used as a indicator in the health and disability sector .Whilst diagnostic categories have their place the impact on general health is variable. Agree it might need some thinking about but moves towards the joined up person not just a collection of condition.


Joanna Broad Tue 23 Jun 2015 10:10PM

Hi @Frances Horton.
Thanks for your comments. The general health question is simple, widely used and globally accepted. It's only one question, but people seem to be able to respond OK. If more detail is needed, then probably other surveys, such as the Health Survey, would be appropriate to give more detail.
Often the question is "would you say you health is ... excellent/very good/good/fair/poor?". Sometimes a time frame is given, eg "over the past 12 months", to avoid people temporarily sick seeming to be worse, but that also comes with a downside.
The question has been shown to predict death, loss of function, use of health services, and functional and psychological health outcomes. So despite the fact that individuals may respond differently to the wording of the question, it has proven quite powerful and very useful at a population level when we're trying to identify and provide for groups with higher needs.
I suppose what I'm getting to is that, when asked, people seem to have some perception of their overall health - whether because they refer to earlier in their own lives or to others of same age, or some amalgam of perspectives. It seems to work without spelling out all the different aspects of one's life, parts of body or ability to do things.
Clearly if StatsNZ decided to include the question, detailed decisions would be needed about its exact form, but they're not at that stage yet.