Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Our health and its determinants (2)

The Relative Contribution of Multiple Determinants to Health Outcomes

There are five major categories of health determinants: genetics, behavior, social circumstances, environmental and physical influences, and medical care. If this is so, do we know the relative importance of each factor?
Last February I posted in this blog a figure by Kindig that explains their contribution. Now a Health Affairs brief summarises different views. Check Exhibit 1, and you'll see there that behaviour represents 35-50% of health status according to different estimates.
The message is clear in our current evironment of mostly non-communicable diseases, we have to find better ways to change behaviour towards healthier people. Decisions and actions, short and long term, risk and responsibility, costs and benefits, trade-offs of every day life.

PS. Must read:  The Ethics of Ebola.
The first three doses of ZMapp were administered to the American medical missionaries Kent Brantly and Nancy Whitebol, who have recovered, and the Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, who has since died. Some offered a practical justification for the widely criticized selection of Brantly and Whitebol: It makes sense to treat health workers first, so that they can continue to help others. But this argument largely fell apart with the selection of the 75-year-old Pajares.
PS.  "Only four companies today make vaccines, compared to 26 companies 50 years ago.". My concerns about a future systemic drug industry are closer than expected (at least in vaccines).

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