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Overall Health Status

Public health professionals use measures of health status to gauge the overall health of a community. Examples of summary measures of health include:
  • General health status and healthy days measures from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) surveys
  • Life expectancy
  • Years of potential life lost (YPLL)
Measures of general health status provide information on the health of a population. These measures also provide a way to monitor trends over time and compare trends with other communities.
Health Status RankingSeveral measures of health status are used to understand the health of a population because no single measure can completely incorporate all aspects of health and mortality.

Self-reported health (SRH) indicates perceived wellbeing and can highlight disparities within the population.1 SRH is an independent predictor of important health outcomes including mortality, morbidity, and functional status. It is considered to be a reliable indicator of a person's perceived health and is a good global assessment of a person's well-being.

Life expectancy at birth is the number of years an average newborn expects to live, if that newborn were to experience the current mortality rates for the community into which they were born.2 Calculations are based on the assumption that future mortality rates at each age will remain exactly as they are today. Life expectancy at birth summarizes mortality risk and trends across all age groups.

YPLL is a summary measure of premature mortality (early death). It represents the total number of years not lived by people who die before reaching a given age. Deaths among young people contribute more to the YPLL measure than deaths among older people. YPLL is based on the number of deaths at each age up to some limit. For example, the age limit is placed at 75 for calculations on this website, so people who die before age 75 are defined as having lost some potential years of life.
Summary measures of health attempt to identify populations at higher risk of disease or who experience higher rates of mortality.
Summary measures of health can also help public health professionals understand what factors (e.g., education, housing, transportation, etc.) are contributing to health differences in their state and from there, guide the planning and delivery of community services and support.


Works Cited

1. Quality of Life. Peterson-Kaiser. retrieved December 27, 2018
2. Boothe VL, Fierro LA, Laurent A, Shih M. Sub-County Life Expectancy: A Tool to Improve Community Health and Advance Health Equity. Prev Chronic Dis 2018;15:170187. DOI:
Rates of years of potential life lost per 100,000 population, available by year (5-year groups) and geography (county and Utah Small Areas)

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The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sun, 22 May 2022 17:51:59 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Thu, 7 Feb 2019 11:17:27 MST