What are advantages and disadvantages to use the population-based data in health?

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The advantages of "population-based health care" are primarily concerned with its emphasis on targeting specific categories of individual for whom incidences of a particular disease or injury are particularly high.  By isolating individual sectors of the population for which disease or injury is noticeably higher than for the general population, health care strategies can be formulated specific to those sectors, thereby, hopefully, diminishing the incidences of those illnesses or injuries by addressing root causes.  The best way to understand population-based health care through example, and one of the most useful examples involves the African American community, which accounts for just over 14 percent of the population. [Data derived from 1010 U.S. Census]  More than any other ethnic group, African Americans have had endure systemic obstacles that have been directly linked to incidences of certain diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure at greater proportions than in other ethnic groups.  While the nation as a whole has struggled for centuries to eliminate the legacy of racism, the medical problems associated with that legacy continue.  By applying a population-based approach to the disproportionate percentage of African Americans with diabetes, strategies can be formulated to reverse that situation, including by targeting that particular community for public service announcements oriented toward health awareness and activities, for example, dietary practices, that contribute to the development of this disease.

Another advantage of population-based health care is economic.  By targeting individual categories of individual, whether based upon ethnicity, profession, level of education, or any other, public health campaigns can be more surgically targeted to specific segments of the population.  For example, the disturbingly high ratio of Native Americans with substance abuse problems -- again, a direct legacy of a history of discrimination and marginalization -- is a target of public health programs oriented towards that unique environment.  Life on the average reservation is dysfunctional and violent, and the health patterns associated with that environment requires targeted intervention.  As with the African American community, Native Americans experience higher rates of diabetes and heart disease, but also suffer disproportionately from liver diseases associated with substance, especially alcohol, abuse, as well as from stroke, pneumonia and suicide. [Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control]  A population-based approach to medical care for the Native American community helps ensure that the appropriate resources and public health campaigns are devised with this community in mind.

The main disadvantage to population-based health care -- and it is out-weighed by the advantages -- is the risk of over-simplifying certain segments of the population at the expense of individual needs.  By adopting a population-based approach to health care, there is a risk of overemphasizing identified health problems while neglecting or missing newly emerging threats.  Additionally, surveilling individual segments of the population can be a very inefficient system for public health officials responsible for the entirety of a population.  Perceptually, population segments not enjoying such targeted attention may resent what it views as a disproportionate percentage of public health resources being allocated to what, as noted, are relatively small percentages of the total population, and resource allocation issues invariably involve strong political constituencies that frequently skew resource allocation where it is wanted rather than where it is needed.  On the whole, however, population-based health care is a viable approach to rectifying long-standing disparities resulting from cultural insensitivities.

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Much of the data used in population-based health care is drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau, which surveils the entire population every ten years and includes questions on number of people living in each domicile, number with health insurance, income levels, and much more.  The National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is a subset of the data collected and collated by the Census Bureau, and provides the basis for much population-based analysis.  This information provides researchers and government agencies, especially the Department of Health and Human Services, the information they need to target health care efforts.  An advantage to this system is the comprehensive approach to data collection the census process provides.  A disadvantage is the gaps in certain communities, almost always economically disadvantage, with respect to the collection of data.  The less affluent the population, and the greater the percentage of a community represented by undocumented residents, the less reliable the data.  Such categories of families are far more likely to respond to census questionnaires with misleading data, usually out of mistrust of government and fear, in the case of the undocumented, of being discovered and deported.  The main methodological flaw, therefore, is in reliance on data the reliability of which may be questionable.

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peijiaz | (Level 1) eNoter

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Let me  clarify this questions again, I am looking for answer from methodological perspective. Thanks

peijiaz's profile pic

peijiaz | (Level 1) eNoter

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I am asking about utilize the population-based DATA in health, NOT the population-based health care, so could you please clarify this problem and provide me the answer. Thank you.

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