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How Other Countries Use Deprivation IndicesAnd Why The United States Desperately Needs One

Author: Robert L. Phillips, Winston Liaw, Peter Crampton, Daniel J. Exeter, Andrew Bazemore, Katherine Diaz Vickery, Stephen Petterson, Mark Carrozza
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Integrating public health and medicine to address social determinants of health is essential to achieving the Triple Aim of lower costs, improved care, and population health. There is intense interest in the United States in using social determinants of health to direct clinical and community health interventions, and to adjust quality measures and payments. The United Kingdom and New Zealand use data representing aspects of material and social deprivation from their censuses or from administrative data sets to construct indices designed to measure socioeconomic variation across communities, assess community needs, inform research, adjust clinical funding, allocate community resources, and determine policy impact. Indices provide these countries with comparable data and serve as a universal language and tool set to define organizing principles for population health. In this article we examine how these countries develop, validate, and operationalize their indices; explore their use in policy; and propose the development of a similar deprivation index for the United States.

Integrating public health and medicine to address social determinants of health is essential to achieving the Triple Aim of lower costs, improved care, and population health. There is intense interest in the United States in using social determinants of health to direct clinical and community health interventions, and to adjust quality measures and payments. The United Kingdom and New Zealand use data representing aspects of material and social deprivation from their censuses or from administrative data sets to construct indices designed to measure socioeconomic variation across communities, assess community needs, inform research, adjust clinical funding, allocate community resources, and determine policy impact. Indices provide these countries with comparable data and serve as a universal language and tool set to define organizing principles for population health. In this article we examine how these countries develop, validate, and operationalize their indices; explore their use in policy; and propose the development of a similar deprivation index for the United States.

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