population heath

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Population Health

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

—Benjamin Franklin

The purpose of health policy is to improve the health of individuals and populations. As discussed in Week 2, health care reform efforts seek to improve access to quality health care for all individuals. Yet, as noted in Week 3, continued rising health care costs are not resulting in improved health outcomes. How can the United States improve its health status in a cost-efficient manner, and what is the role of the nurse in moving this agenda forward? Many believe the answer lies in focusing on preventive care and population health.

While nursing care has traditionally been centered on individuals, the emerging focus of population health allows nurses to take a broader view for improving health outcomes. This wider perspective means that nurses may now examine a range of factors that influence populations as a whole, rather than focus solely on individual patients.

This week, you will evaluate factors that impact population health, and thus, the health care system. These factors include access to health care, individual behavior, the social and physical environment, and genetics. You will also consider the role of epidemiologic data in the process of evaluating the health of a population.

Reference:

U.S. History.org. (2010). The electric Ben Franklin. Retrieved from http://www.ushistory.org/franklin/info/

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze factors that influence a population health issue
  • Apply the use of epidemiologic data to the design of population health measures and policy initiatives.

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Knickman, J. R., & Kovner, A. R. (Eds.). (2015). Health care delivery in the united states (11th ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing.

  • Chapter 5, “Population Health” (pp. 79–97)

    This chapter introduces the concept of population health, which views health issues at the population level rather than at an individual level.

Kindig, D. (2007). Understanding population health terminology. The Milbank Quarterly, 85(1), 139–161.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

This article provides a valuable foundation in understanding the terminology of population health. Although written in 2007, the information in this article is very pertinent to the topics discussed this week.

Kindig, D., Asada, Y., & Booske, B. (2008). A population health framework for setting national and state health goals. JAMA, 299(17), 2081–2083.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Using a framework to craft policy and programs can help ensure that outcomes are measurable. The authors of this article note how some of the overarching goals of Healthy People 2010 were not measurable. They suggest a framework for developing more measurable goals for Healthy People 2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Morbidity and mortality weekly report (MMWR). State health statistics. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/StateHealth/index.html

The CDC website provides health statistics gathered using epidemiologic methods. Explore the health statistics for your state or for a health problem of interest to you.

HealthyPeople.gov. (2010). Foundation health measures. Retrieved from http://healthypeople.gov/2020/about/tracking.aspx

Healthy People 2020 uses the four foundational measures presented at this website to monitor the health of the American population.

State of New South Wales, Department of Education and Communities and Charles Sturt University. (2012). Core 1: Health priorities in Australia: How are priority issues for Australia’s health identified? Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/MsRatusau/hsc-pdhpe-core-1-health-priorities-in-australia

Australia uses epidemiologic data to establish its health priorities. Review the information presented at this website, and consider how the United States sets its health priorities.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Healthy People 2020. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/sites/default/files/HP2020_brochure_with_LHI_508_FNL.pdf

This overview of Healthy People 2020 provides a description of goals of this program, along with indicators used to assess the health of the United States.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Healthy People 2020 – Improving the health of Americans. Retrieved from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx

This site contains a wide variety of information and resources dealing with the Healthy People 2020 goals, as well as information on how to implement the objectives.

University of Wisconsin Department of Population Health Sciences. (n.d.). What is population health? Retrieved from http://www.improvingpopulationhealth.org/blog/what-is-population-health.html

This website provides a definition of population health and health determinants. It also examines how health policy can influence determinants of health.

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2012h). Population health. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 13 minutes.

Accessible player


Key Health Determinants

Did you know that the United States has a higher rate of infant mortality than Japan (CIA, n.d.)? Or, as Dr. Beilenson states in this week’s media presentation, that “your zip code that you live in makes more difference in your health and well-being than the genetic code that you’re born with?” What causes these differences in health outcomes?

To effectively develop policies and programs to improve population health, it is useful to use a framework to guide the process. Different organizations and governmental agencies (for example, Healthy People 2020) have created a variety of such frameworks, which establish measures for assessing population health. These measures frequently are derived from the examination of epidemiologic data, which include key measures of population health such as mortality, morbidity, life expectancy, etc. Within each measure are a variety of progress indicators that use epidemiologic data to assess improvement or change.

For this paper, you will apply a framework developed by Kindig, Asada, and Booske (2008) to a population health issue of interest to you. This framework includes five key health determinants that should be considered when developing policies and programs to improve population health: access to health care, individual behavior, social environment, physical environment, and genetics.


To prepare:

  • Review the article “A Population Health Framework for Setting National and State Health Goals,” focusing on population health determinants.
  • Review the information in the blog post “What Is Population Health?”
  • With this information in mind, elect a population health issue that is of interest to you.
  • Using this week’s Learning Resources, the Walden Library, and other relevant resources, conduct a search to locate current data on your population health issue.
  • Consider how epidemiologic data has been used to design population health measures and policy initiatives in addressing this issue.

Write a summary of how the five population health determinants (access to health care, individual behavior, social environment, physical environment, and genetics) affect your selected health issue, and which determinants you think are most impactful for that particular issue and why. Explain how epidemiologic data supports the significance of your issue, and explain how this data has been used in designing population health measures and policy initiatives.

Reference:

Central Intelligence Agency. (n.d.) The world factbook. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

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