Health and Human Development (SAC topic 1 - Australia's Health)

• definitions of physical, social and mental dimensions of health and health status;

• different measures of health status of Australians, including the meaning of burden of disease,

health adjusted life expectancy and DALYs, life expectancy, under-five mortality rate, mortality,

morbidity, incidence, prevalence;

• health status of Australians compared with other developed countries, including Sweden, United

States of America, United Kingdom and Japan;

• variations in the health status of population groups in Australia, including males and females,

higher and lower socio-economic status groups, rural and remote populations and indigenous


• biological, behavioural and social determinants of health in explaining variations in health


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  • Created on: 05-08-12 10:09

• definitions of physical, social and mental dimen

Health: A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or imfirminty. (WHO, 1946)

Physical: relates to the efficient functioning of the body and it's systems, including the physical capacity to perform tasks and physical fitness. Examples of physical health include the ability to resist disease, recover from illness and injury, sufficient energy, strength and coordination to engage in daily physical activities, appropriate weight and nutrition.

Social: Being able to interact with and participate in the community in both an independent and cooperative way. Examples include the ability to develop and maintain relationships, communicate positives and effectively, behave in socially appropriate ways in a range of social situations.

Mental: refers to a state of wellbeing where individuals realise their own abilities, cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and are able to make a contribution to their community. Examples include being able to understand and express one's emotions, having self-confidence and positive self-esteem, coping with  stress, and having the capacity to love, work and play. 

Health Status: An individuals or a population's overall health, taking into account various aspects such as life expectancy, amount of disability and levels of disease risk factors.

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• different measures of health status of Australia

Burden of Disease: A measure of the impact of diseases and injuries, specifically it measures the gap between current health status and an ideal situation where everyone lives to an old age free of disease and disability. Burden of disease is measured in a unit called the DALY.

Health Adjusted Life Expectancy (HALE):A measure of burden of disease based on life expectancy at birth, but including an adjustment for time spent in poor health. It is the number of years in full health that a person can expect to live, based on current rates of ill health and mortality.

Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs): A measure of burden of disease, one DALY equals one year of healthy life lost due to premature death and time lived with illness, disease or injury. (DALY = YLL + YLD) 

*Must always acknowledge that there are two different parts to a DALY.

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• different measures of health status of Australia

Under-5 Mortality Rate (U5MR):The number of deaths of children under 5 years of age per 1,000 live births. A very hight U5MR usually indicates poor access to health care, a poorly funded or non existent healthcare system and low levels of sanitation

Mortality: Deaths in a population. 

Morbidity: Refers to ill health in an individual and the levels of ill health in a population group. 

Incidence:The number or rate of new cases of a disease during a specified period of time. 

Prevalence:The number or proportion of cases of a particular disease or condition present in a population at a given time. 

Life Expectancy:An indication of how long a person can expect to live, it is the number of years of life remaining to a person at a particular age if death rates do not change.

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Health status of Australians compared with other d


  • Universal Healthcare system (Medicare)
  • Government subsidised pharmaceuticals (PBS)
  • Highest obesity rates in the world.


  • No universal healthcare system
  • Large variations in health status between the population groups
  • Leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer and stroke - All of which can be linked back to behavioural determinants


  • Universal healthcare system.
  • 85% of the population are non smokers.
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Health status of Australians compared with other d


  • Highest Life Expectancy in the world.
  • Universal healthcare system
  • only 66% of population live in urban areas


  • Universal healthcare system
  • people in northern UK have better health status than people in the south. 
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•variations in the health status of population gro

Males and Females:

MALES - have a lower life expectancy & health status than females.

  • Higher rates of injury & death related to injury.
  • Higher rates of death due to suicide, road trauma and violence.
  • Higher rates of cancer (particularly melanoma)
  • Higher rates of diabetes.
  • Higher rates of obesity (particularly abdominal obesity


  • Suffer higher rates of osteoporosis (due to osteoporosis)
  • Suffer more long term mental health and behavioural problems. 

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•variations in the health status of population gro

Males and Females - Why the variation?

  • Males are more likely to take part in risk taking behaviour, such as car speeding, violence, drink driving, smoking and are more likely to be effected by long term alcohol consumption.
  • Males are also more likely to work in hazardous workplaces - risks of death, injury and sun exposure. (e.g mining)
  • Males take more risks (higher levels of testosterone) also have social expectations to live up to. 
  • Women are more likely to visit doctors due to reproductive issues.
  • Also more likely to eat a more nutritious diet.
  • Are more likely to notice health promotion, screening programs and go for preventative check ups. 
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•variations in the health status of population gro

Higher and Lower Socioeconomic Status Groups:

  • The three most important factors which contribute to SES are education levels, income and occupation. 

People from a lower SES:

  • Have a lower life expectancy
  • Have a higher burden of disease
  • Higher rates of mortality (cancer, CVD, suicide, traffic accidents)
  • Most reported causes of morbidity: diabetes, CVD, arthritis, mental health problems and respiratory diseases.
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•variations in the health status of population gro

People of lower SES are more likely to:

  • Smoke
  • Exercise less 
  • Misuse Alcohol
  • Be overweight or obese
  • Have fewer or no daily serves of fruit. 

People of lower SES are less likely to:

  • Use preventative health services such as dentists and immunization.

Reasons for the variation:

  • People from high SES groups have more opportunities, resources and power to make choices than those in lower groups
  • Lower SES groups have lower levels of education. 
  • Higher rates of unemployment.
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•variations in the health status of population gro

Rural & Remote Populations:

  • People who live in rural and remote populations have poorer health that those who live in cities or urbanized areas. They are more likely to:
    • Be of lower SES
    • Have lower levels of education
    • Smoke
    • Engage in harmful drug use
    • Be overweight/obese
    • be less physically active
    • have high risk occupations
    • have poor road conditions, travel longer distances and speed.
    • Higher cost food and petrol
    • Higher suicide rates
    • Limited access to heath services and fresh foods (food insecurity)
    • eat the recommended 5 veg and 2 fruit per day. 
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•variations in the health status of population gro

Indigenous Australians:

Tend to have poorer health than non-indigenous people. Most indigenous people live in rural and remote areas and so there is a lot of overlap between some factors. 

  • Lower rates of safe sex practices
  • Lower birth rates in babies (more likely to be ill in childhood, risk of CVD)
  • Poorer quality housing
  • Higher rates of unemployment 
  • Poor nutrition - diet high in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates. low intake of fruit and milk
  • Physical inactivity 
  • Higher rates of infectious diseases - tuberculosis and certain influenzas.
  • Less likely to drink alcohol, but are more likely to drink excessively.
  • Higher rates of drug use
  • Smoking
  • More likely to be overweight/obese.
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Biological, Behavioural and Social determinants of

Biological: Factors relating to the body which impact on health, such as:

  • genetics, 
  • hormones,
  •  body weight, 
  • blood pressure, 
  • cholesterol levels
  • birth weight.
  • Impaired glucose regulation

Behavioural:Actions or patterns of living that impact on health, such as:

  • smoking, 
  • sexual activity,
  • participation in physical activity, 
  • eating practices, 
  • drug use, 
  • alcohol consumption and 
  • excessive sun exposure
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