Health Surveys at National Level

  • Michael Alderson


In order to ‘monitor the public health’ for a defined community, it is necessary that some means be available to assess the health of the population and, in particular, the need for health care. (The issue has already been discussed—see subsection 1.1.1.) One approach to identifying health care needs is to interview a sample of individuals and ask them questions about their social setting, their recognition of signs and symptoms of disease, their attitude to sickness and health care, and perhaps their contact with the health services in the recent past. The next chapter rounds out the important issue of which is the most appropriate method for obtaining such information from the population, and the rather contentious issue of the correct balance between routine statistics and surveys. This chapter provides a general consideration of the potential contribution of surveys. The desire to assess the health of a population has been expressed in different ways over the years. A vogue term is ‘health indicators’. Activity on indicators was foreshadowed in the work of the League of Nations before World War II (Stoutman and Falk, 1936). Because of the need to combine information from different sources into a general picture of the health of a population, the development of indicators is dealt with further in the next chapter (see Sections 11.2 and 11.3).


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10.4 Bibliography 10.4.1 Method

  1. General texts on the subject Abramson (1984), Atkinson (1971), Cartwright (1959, 1983), Kleinbaum et al. (1982), Moser and Kalton (1971), Moss and Goldstein (1979), NCHS (1964, 1965b, 1977), Payne (1965), Sanders (1962), Survey Research Centre (1976), UN (1984b), WHO (1972c)Google Scholar
  2. Use in planning Romeder (1977)Google Scholar
  3. Survey error Hansen et al. (1961), Gullen et al. (1968)Google Scholar
  4. Surveys in developing countries Kroeger (1985, 1986)Google Scholar
  5. Continuing series, such as the Survey Methodology Bulletin and New Methodology Series produced and published by OPCS; Vital and Health Statistics, series 2, from NCHS.Google Scholar

10.4.2 Classification of Disability

  1. Wood and Badley (1978), Williams (1979), WHO (1980e)Google Scholar

10.4.3 Validity Factors Affecting Response Rate

  1. Clausen and Ford (1947), Hill (1951), Cochrane (1954), Gray (1957), Kemsley and Nicholson (1960), Reader (1960), Scott (1961), Tiblin (1965), Markush (1966), Cartwright and Ward (1968), Gordon and Kannel (1968), Fink et al.Google Scholar
  2. (1968), Mork (1970), Kaplan and Cole (1970), Kelsey and Acheson (1971), Harris et al. (1971), Gullen and Garrison (1973), Kemsley (1975), Morris (1975), Doll and Peto (1976), Goldstein (1976), Kemsley (1976), Newland et al. (1977), Cartwright (1978), Mullner et al (1982), Swenson (1984), Cartwright (1986 a,b)Google Scholar Bias from Non-response

  1. Cochrane (1954), Doll and Hill (1964), Tiblin (1965), McGregor et al. (1966), Osborn and Leyshon (1966), Pedersen (1966), Gordon and Kannell (1968), Sansom et al. (1970), Harris et al. (1971), Horowitz and Wilbeck (1971), Fink et al. (1972), Lambert (1972), Oakes et al. (1973), Doll and Peto (1976), Kemsley (1976), Wilhelmsen et al. (1976), Cartwright (1978), Sheik and Mattingly (1981), Silman and Locke (1982)Google Scholar Subjects’ Responses

  1. Influence of the characteristics of the interviewerColombotis et al. (1968), NCHS (1968), Kannel et al. (1969)Google Scholar
  2. Subjects’ characteristics, such as age, marital status, ethnic group, etc.Farr (1841), Eckler and Hurwitz (1958), General Register Office (1968)Google Scholar
  3. Reported height and weightStewart (1982), Palta et al. (1982)Google Scholar
  4. Drinking Edwards et al (1973), Sobell et al. (1982), Bernadt et al. (1982)Google Scholar
  5. Drug consumption Paganini-Hill and Ross (1982), Murray (1973)Google Scholar
  6. Habitual leisure activity Yasin et al. (1967)Google Scholar
  7. Sexual behaviour Armstrong (1980), Kunin and Ames (1981)Google Scholar
  8. Smoking Todd (1966), Bewley et al. (1973), Holland and Elliott (1968), Israel et al. (1979), Todd (1978), Kozlowski et al. (1980), McKennell (1980)Google Scholar
  9. Use of hospital resources NCHS (1965b,c,d), Vessey et al. (1974), Palmer et al. (1969), Brorsson and Smedby (1982)Google Scholar
  10. Medical history, with or without a structured questionnaire NCHS (1965c, 1967b, 1973), Milne and Williamson (1971)Google Scholar
  11. General health Hunt et al. (1981), Statistics Canada (1981), Watkins et al (1982), Tretli et al. (1982)Google Scholar
  12. Anaemiade Maeyer and Adiels-Tegman (1985)Google Scholar
  13. Cardiovascular symptoms Rose (1962), Rose and Blackburn (1968)Google Scholar
  14. Dental health Gray et al. (1970)Google Scholar
  15. Disability Garrad and Bennett (1971), Isaacs and Neville (1975), Peach et al. (1980), Williams et al. (1976)Google Scholar
  16. Psychiatric symptoms Cooper et al. (1972), Goldberg (1972), WHO (1973b), Bollerup (1975)Google Scholar
  17. Respiratory symptomsCochrane et al. (1951), Fairbairn et al. (1959), Sharpe et al. (1965), Fletcher and Tinker (1961), College of General Practitioners (1961), Cotes (1987)Google Scholar
  18. Pregnancy history Tilley et al. (1985)Google Scholar
  19. Venereal disease Fleming et al. (1970)Google Scholar
  20. Use of hospital resources NCHS (1965b), Vessey et al. (1974), Palmer et al. (1969), Brorsson and Smedby (1982)Google Scholar
  21. History of previous X-rays Kneale and Stewart (1980)Google Scholar Examination

  1. General aspects Feinstein (1964), NCHS (1965a)Google Scholar
  2. Alimentary tract signs Graham et al. (1971)Google Scholar
  3. Cardiovascular signs Raftery and Holland (1967), Meade et al. (1968)Google Scholar
  4. Respiratory signs Godfrey et al. (1969)Google Scholar

10.4.3. Investigation

  1. Blood pressure Boe et al. (1957), Rose et al. (1964), Armitage et al. (1966a,b), Gardner and Heady (1973)Google Scholar
  2. Breast cancer examination Yorkshire Breast Group (1977), Chamberlain (1982)Google Scholar
  3. Cytology Yule (1972, 1974), Husain et al. (1974)Google Scholar
  4. Diet Marr (1965), NCHS (1965a), Hankin et al. (1975), Nomura et al. (1976), Jain et al (1980)Google Scholar
  5. ECG Blackburn et al. (1960), Higgins et al. (1963)Google Scholar
  6. Histology Beck (1985)Google Scholar
  7. Laboratory investigations Whitehead (1974)Google Scholar
  8. Respiratory function Wright and McKerrow (1959)Google Scholar
  9. Skin-fold thickness Edwards et al. (1955), Ruiz et al. (1971)Google Scholar
  10. X-ray Yerushalmy (1947), Boyd (1978)Google Scholar

10.4.4 Projection of Health Status

  1. Lopez and Hakama (1986), Minder and Abelin (1986)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael Alderson 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Alderson
    • 1
  1. 1.SouthamptonUK

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