The health of adult Europe

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7145.1620 (Published 30 May 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1620

Combating inequalities involves measuring what counts

  1. Stuart Donnan, Consultant in public health medicine
  1. Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority, London SE1 7NT

    Papers p 1636

    Shortly after the change of Britain's government last year the Office of National Statistics published a volume in its decennial supplement series entitled The Health of Adult Britain 1841-1994.1 Its major aim was to bring together routine vital statistics and to chart trends in mortality. There were also many references to hospital inpatient and general practice activity data and other special data sources. In addition, many of the chapters reviewed specific areas of health or specific factors related to health. The information was collected and collated by a galaxy of authors and was well presented, but almost by definition there was nothing particularly new. One of the final chapters asked, “Are we healthier?” acknowledging that especially for the older members of our society length of life and quality of life are not the same. The answer given was that some things are better, some worse, and some have stayed the same.

    However, even if the data weren't new, some of the attitudes were. The publication discussed inequalities openly if briefly and considered topics such as unemployment and housing as well as drugs, …

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