Domain 3 – Health status
How healthy are Australians? Is it the same for everyone? What are the best opportunities for improvement?
The health status domain reflects the status of individuals, cohorts and populations in terms of conditions, functioning and well-being. It includes impairments, disabilities and handicaps that are a consequence of disease. Health can be measured and described, for example, by the incidence and prevalence of conditions across the community, providing an overall picture of the health of the community, and representing the outcomes of all the factors that shape our health.
Dimensions of this framework
Health conditions such as low birthweight, cancer, diabetes, infections, injury or psychological distress can impose significant costs on society in terms of health system use, days off work because of illness or to care for people who are ill, and reduced quality of life. The incidence and prevalence of conditions across the community can provide an overall picture of the health of the community, representing the outcomes of all the factors that shape our health.
Chronic diseases, residual injuries, permanent damage or defects from birth can impair how well a person functions day to day. How people experience and cope with a disability can be greatly affected by the opportunities and services provided for them. Human function can be measured by alterations to body structure or function (impairment), activity limitations and restrictions in participation. Severe or profound core activity limitation can be measured by calculating the percentage of people who ‘sometimes’ or ‘always’ need help with core activities of daily living (mobility, self-care or communication). The likelihood of having a severe or profound core activity limitation generally increases with age.
Physical, mental and social wellbeing is affected by an individual’s perceptions, emotions and behaviour as well as their ease of movement and levels of any discomfort. Mental health is fundamental to the wellbeing of individuals, their families and the community as a whole. Wellbeing can be measured by self-assessed health status and the prevalence of psychological distress in the population.
It is important to examine trends and patterns in life expectancy, mortality rates in infants and children, deaths due to suicide and major causes of death. This can help evaluate health strategies and guide policy-making. Examining causes of death provides further insight into the events contributing to deaths, reflecting changes in behaviours, exposures to disease or injury, social and environmental circumstances, data coding practices as well as impacts of medical and technological advances.