Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Some international comparisons of mortality amenable to medical intervention.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 292 doi: (Published 01 February 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;292:295
  1. J R Charlton,
  2. R Velez


    A series of outcome indicators was proposed for assessing the curative aspects of health care using several diseases for which evidence suggested that death was largely avoidable provided that appropriate medical treatment could be given in time. International data were examined for those causes for which data were readily available. Time trends in mortality were compared for each of these conditions for six countries that had experienced appreciable growth in health services during 1950-80. Mortality from the heterogeneous "avoidable" causes had declined faster than mortality from all other causes in each of the six countries. Despite problems of diagnosis, reporting, and classification of diseases that may have existed among countries, making international comparisons of absolute mortality difficult, the trends of declining mortality were similar, lending credibility to the use of these causes of mortality as indices of health care within countries. Changes within countries may also have been attributable to changes in social, environmental, genetic, and diagnostic factors, which were not examined. Nevertheless, the consistency in mortality trends for this group of "amenable" diseases suggested that improvements in medical care were a factor in their rapid decline.