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Statistical Measures and Definitions
NAPHSIS has developed this web site to provide vital statistics users with basic terminology and measures commonly used by its members and CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
Common Vital Statistics Measures - Absolute counts of births and deaths do not readily lend themselves to analysis and comparison between years and between various geographic areas because of population differences. These demographic differences include total number, age and sex distribution, and ethnic or racial differentials. In order to assess the health status of a particular population at a specified time, the absolute number of events is converted to a relative number such as a probability of living or dying, i.e., a rate, a ratio, or an index. This conversion is made by relating the number of events to the population at risk in a particular area at a specified time. NAPHSIS has developed definitions, calculations, examples, and technical notes of relevant issues for the measures (rates, ratios, percentages, etc.) commonly found in vital statistics publications and reports prepared by state health departments and the National Center for Health Statistics and regularly used for national, state and community public health assessment purposes.
Common Vital Statistics Terms – Appropriate use and understanding of vital statistics measures requires awareness of the basic concepts and terms commonly used with these statistics. NAPHSIS has developed definitions for these common terms that provide the appropriate background and reference for all types of users.
NAPHSIS would like to thank the Statistical Measures Committee
members for their contribution to the development of this web-site. This resource was developed under the support of the CDC Assessment Initiative Program, grant number 5U38HK000003-02. Information on these measures and definitions is being made available here for the benefit of the public health professionals. For questions on this material, please contact Sukhjeet S. Ahuja MD, MPH
, NAPHSIS Director, Health Statistics.