Burden of disease

Burden of disease is a globally recognised way to quantify the difference between the ideal of living to old age in good health, and the situation where healthy life is shortened by illness, injury, disability and early death.

Understanding the burden of disease is the first step in identifying the areas of prevention which could have the biggest impact on health and health spend.

Burden of disease is measured using the disability adjusted life year (DALY).  This combines years of life lost (YLL) due to early death and years of life lost due to time lived in poor health (YLD - years of life with disability).

The results from the first ‘National Burden of Disease, Injuries and Risk Factors Study in Scotland’ are available on the ScotPHO website, by age and gender. You will be able to access data on burden by socio-economic group and location in late August 2017.

This ongoing research study is a collaboration between NHS Health Scotland and ISD Scotland. Contact us to find out more or get involved.

Ongoing work and further plans include

  • burden based on selected risk factors (obesity, alcohol, smoking and deprivation)
  • comparison of the relative impacts of interventions in reducing the burden of disease (to inform economic evaluation of those interventions)
  • projections of the burden of disease to help address the future challenges posed by the ageing of the population, changes in disease and risk factor patterns, and the increasing costs of health services
  • burden of multi-morbidity (the presence of two or more chronic conditions).