Research Alert

Background: Disease status (eg, cancer stage) has been used in routine clinical practice to determine more accurate treatment plans. Health-related indicators, such as mortality, morbidity, and population group life expectancy, have also been used. However, few studies have specifically focused on the comprehensive and objective measures of individual health status.

Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze the perspectives of the public toward 29 health indicators obtained from a literature review to provide evidence for further prioritization of the indicators. The difference between health status and disease status should be considered.

Methods: This study used a cross-sectional design. Online surveys were administered through Ohio University, ResearchMatch, and Clemson University, resulting in three samples. Participants aged 18 years or older rated the importance of the 29 health indicators. The rating results were aggregated and analyzed as follows (in each case, the dependent variables were the individual survey responses): (1) to determine the agreement among the three samples regarding the importance of each indicator, where the independent variables (IVs) were the three samples; (2) to examine the mean differences between the retained indicators with agreement across the three samples, where the IVs were the identified indicators; and (3) to rank the groups of indicators into various levels after grouping the indicators with no mean differences, where the IVs were the groups of indicators.

Results: In total, 1153 valid responses were analyzed. Descriptive statistics revealed that the top five–rated indicators were drug or substance abuse, smoking or tobacco use, alcohol abuse, major depression, and diet and nutrition. Among the 29 health indicators, the three samples agreed upon the importance of 13 indicators. Inferential statistical analysis indicated that some of the 13 indicators held equal importance. Therefore, the 13 indicators were categorized by rank into seven levels: level 1 included blood sugar level and immunization and vaccination; level 2 included LDL cholesterol; level 3 included HDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, cancer screening detection, and total cholesterol; level 4 included health literacy rate; level 5 included personal care needs and air quality index greater than 100; level 6 included self-rated health status and HIV testing; and level 7 included the supply of dentists. Levels 1 to 3 were rated significantly higher than levels 4 to 7.

Conclusions: This study provides a baseline for prioritizing 29 health indicators, which can be used by electronic health record or personal health record system designers or developers to determine what can be included in the systems to capture an individual’s health status. Currently, self-rated health status is the predominantly used health indicator. Additionally, this study provides a foundation for tracking and measuring preventive health care services more accurately and for developing an individual health status index.

Journal Link: Journal of Medical Internet Research

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Journal of Medical Internet Research