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The HSC PDHPE 2012 exam, Question 23 asks “How is epidemiology used to improve the health of Australians? Provide examples.” and is worth 6 marks. Maja has submitted this answer below. Take a look and compare it with the marking criteria and sample answer from NESA to see what you think, and how you might improve it.
Epidemiology is the study of the frequency and distribution of a disease and involves the measuring of health status through the collection of data and information from specific groups and larger populations. It is important as it can be used to significantly improve the health of Australians by identifying the prevalence of a condition and morbidity and mortality rates of that condition, giving researchers, health department officials and governments indicators of the existence of health problems within a community. The four main indicators used to describe the health status of a population include mortality rates, infant mortality rates, morbidity rates and life expectancy rates. Epidemiologists can study patterns of incidence of diseases to allow public health authorities to manage, evaluate and plan for health services to prevent, control and treat diseases and health problems. For example, by identifying cardiovascular disease is prevalent amongst Australians, action can be undertaken to attempt to prevent it through education. As a result of increased education on the impacts of smoking, CVD rates are on the decline. Another example is that mortality caused by cancers is on the decline. Epidemiology accounted for early diagnosis procedures to be put in place, such as breast screenings, in an attempt to decrease mortality rates. This has caused an increase in survival rates and decrease in mortality, contributing to a healthier population. Overall, epidemiology is important as it can be used by health professionals and the government to develop policies and health promotion strategies that promote the health of individuals in the community.
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