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Step 3. Evaluating Health Outcome Data

Identifying the specific statistical analysis methods used when evaluating health outcome data is beyond the scope of this online learning program. A variety of statistical methods are available to conduct those evaluations and they are discussed in most books on epidemiology. The health assessor or the epidemiologist on the public health assessment team should use the statistical analysis method that is best for the conditions at the site under investigation.

When possible, the focus of the evaluation should be on community members who are exposed to site chemicals as compared to a population that is not exposed to site chemicals.

The preferred focus of the evaluation is on identifying diseases that occur more among community members exposed to site chemicals than among a comparison population not exposed to site chemicals.


If a health outcome data evaluation is conducted, how might community concerns about a disease outcome occurring in their area be addressed?

If community members feel that an above-average number of people in their area have a particular disease, an evaluation of existing health outcome data may help determine whether more cases of the disease are occurring in their area than in a comparison population with similar characteristics, such as the county population or the state population.

Existing health outcome data are collected to statistically measure the occurrence of disease in a population. The statistical analyses of the data cannot prove an association between illnesses and the site. Health outcome data evaluations are only conducted to help identify possible health actions that might be needed after the public health assessment process is completed.

 
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bullet Last updated: February 20, 2008 bullet ATSDR EPH Training Coordinator
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