The chapter begins by discussing the deceivingly simple question, “why are some people healthy, and others not healthy?” To answer this question, Skolnik explains different determinants of an individual’s health, such as genetic makeup, sex, age, social and cultural issues, amount and extent of social support, environmental factors, education, individual health practices and behaviors, access to healthcare, and governmental control regarding health policies and programs. The influence “personal and inborn features”, as Skolnik describes them, have on individual health may seem fairly obvious at first . However, I also found it interesting to read about how Skolnik describes factors such as culture, social settings, and environment having an affect on individual health. The chapter then goes into examining different statistical health indicators, such as life expectancy, maternal mortality ratio, infant mortality rate, neonatal mortality rate, and child mortality rate. These analyses are deeply dependent on the individual health determinants discussed by Skolnik in the first chapter. I also found the graphics and figures to be very helpful with visualizing the statistical data.

The rest of the chapter deals with health related data regarding different countries, comparing both high and low income countries as well as different age groups and different demographics for these populations. I liked how Skolnik touched on not only the “10 leading causes of death” regarding different populations and age groups, but also demographics on risk factors, global health, and the burden of disease. I particularly liked the conclusiveness of Table 2-12 and found it very interesting to compare all this information side by side. Overall, I think Skolnik did an excellent job informing his readers of individual health determinants, indicators of health status, global burden of disease, and other statistical data regarding fertility and mortality rates for different countries around the world.  

I was also very enlightened by Gonick’s comic. It reminded me of good ‘ole statistics class in high school, only I wish I would have learned about statistics via those comics (they would have made the class more interesting and easier to sit through…). It served as a nice review of simple data analysis topics such as regression lines, regression analysis, ANOVA, scatter plots, hypothesis testing, sum of squared errors, and multiple linear regression.   

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One response »

  1. sloandavis says:

    If you have any free credits lying around, you should take Intro to Global Health! It uses Skolnik’s book (it’s a full textbook) and gives a really great sampling of different public health problems around the world. I think this chapter, which briefly outlines the numerous determinants of health, put in perspective for the first time why there is so much inequality in the world. There’s a lot of things that can be unequal! I also think that reflects why defining public health is such a challenge – everyone has hundreds of contributing factors that are wildly different from even their sibling. How can we gather all of those factors under one umbrella?

    I was more science-focused than math-driven in high school, so I never took statistics. Calculus was certainly difficult enough, although that might have been the two weeks I spent in Japan in the middle of the semester; needless to say, I have a hard time with serious math. And the comic was excellent! I’m a visual learner, so seeing the concepts represented artistically was wicked helpful. It seems like I might have gotten the better introduction to statistics, if you preferred it too!

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