The Conceptualization and Measurement of Health for Policy Relevant Research in Medical Care Delivery

by John E. Ware

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Discusses several issues regarding health status assessment for purposes of evaluation of medical care delivery. The issues include: (1) reasons for health status assessment, (2) the nature and number of health concepts that can be measured, and (3) some of the implications of various measurement strategies. The Health Insurance Study (HIS) is an example of a social experiment in which the measurement of health will aid in policy decisions. Solutions to the problems of health status assessment for purposes of the HIS are offered as examples that may have general applicability. It is argued that: (1) more use of health care services does not imply better care; (2) an omnibus approach to measurement of health status is required; (3) differences between disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged groups with respect to the reliability and validity of scores computed from survey measures of health must be kept in mind; and (4) self-ratings of health should be given greater emphasis in evaluating medical care.

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