General Health Status Measures

Measures of general health status provide information on the health of a population.  Throughout the decade, Healthy New Jersey 2020 will assess the general health status of the New Jersey population by monitoring:

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy is a summary mortality measure often used to describe the overall health status of a population.  Life expectancy is defined as the average number of years a population of a certain age would be expected to live, given a set of age-specific death rates in a given year.

Healthy New Jersey 2020 monitors 2 life expectancy measures:

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Years of Potential Life Lost

YPLL is a summary measure of premature mortality (early death).  It represents the total number of years not lived by people who die before reaching a given age.  Deaths among younger persons contribute more to the YPLL measure than deaths among older persons.

YPLL is based on the number of deaths at each age up to some limit.  For example, in the United States, the age limit is often placed at 75.  People who die before age 75 are defined as having lost some potential years of life.  YPLL has declined in the United States over time.

Years of Potential Life Lost by Cause of Death

YPLL can be calculated from deaths from all causes or as a cause-specific measure.  In the United States and in New Jersey, cancer is the second leading cause of death but accounts for the largest YPLL per 100,000 population.

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Self-Assessed Health Status

Self-assessed health status is a measure of how an individual perceives his or her health-rating it as excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor.  Self-assessed health status has been validated as a useful indicator of health for a variety of populations and allows for broad comparisons across different conditions and populations.1 

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Chronic Disease Prevalence

Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States and New Jersey.  They cause 7 out of 10 deaths each year.  Heart disease and cancer alone cause half of all deaths each year in New Jersey.

In 2009, 3.4 million New Jerseyans - half of all adults age 18 or older - had at least 1 of 5 reported chronic illnesses:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
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Hospitalization Rates

Inpatient hospital discharge data are used to examine important topics of interest in public health and as a proxy for injury and illness incidence and prevalence when no other data source exists.

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Emergency Department Admission Rates

Emergency department visits are also used to examine important topics of interest in public health and as a proxy for other types of injury and illness incidence.

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Leading Causes of Death

Cause-of-death ranking is a useful tool for illustrating the relative burden of cause-specific mortality.  In 2016, the 10 leading causes of death among New Jersey residents were, in rank order:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Unintentional injury
  4. Stroke
  5. Chronic lower respiratory diseases
  6. Alzheimer's disease
  7. Diabetes
  8. Septicemia
  9. Kidney disease
  10. Influenza and pneumonia

These 10 causes account for three-quarters of all deaths occurring in New Jersey each year.


1Idler E, Benyamini Y. Self-rated health and mortality: A review of 28 studies. J Health Soc Behav. 1997;38(1):21-37.

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Last Reviewed: 7/11/2018