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Multilingual Demographic Dictionary, second unified edition, English volume
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The study of morbidity 1 deals with the investigation of illness 2, sickness 2, ill-health 2 or disease 2 in a population. Two aspects are considered: the incidence of disease 3 and the prevalence of disease 4 according to whether the new cases of disease 5 are considered or the number of cases existing at one point in time. The compilation of morbidity statistics 6 is hampered by the lack of a sharp distinction between health and the morbid state 7. Nosology 8 and nosography 9 contribute respectively to the classification and description of diseases.
- 2. Disease, illness, or sickness are used as collective nouns in the singular, or both in the singular or plural to designate specific ailments.
Health statistics 1 encompass morbidity statistics, but also cover all aspects of the health of a population, and are generally taken to include statistics of cause-specific mortality 2. The classification of deaths by cause of death 3 is made difficult because in many cases there may not be a single cause of death 4 but multiple causes of death 5 or joint causes of death 5. When this is the case we may distinguish between the immediate cause of death 6 and the underlying cause of death 7 or, looking at the problem from a different point of view, we may distinguish between the primary cause of death 8 or principal cause of death 8 and the secondary cause of death 9, contributory cause of death 9 or associated cause of death 9. The cause-specific death rate 10 is generally expressed per 100,000 population. The ratio of the number of deaths from a specific cause to the number of deaths from all causes is referred to as the cause-specific death ratio 11. Such ratios calculated for specific age groups or the general population provide information of the underlying structure of causes of death 12★.
Death or disability (426-2) may be the consequence of disease (420-2) or of injury 1 or poisoning 2. Injuries may be due to accident 3 or violence 4. Among cases of violence it is normal to distinguish suicides 5 and attempted suicides 5, homicides 6 and deaths or injuries due to operations of war 7.
- 1. Injury. A distinction is often made between intentional and unintentional injury.
- 3. Accident, n. - accidental, adj.
- 4. Violence, n. - violent, adj.
- 6. Homicide, n.: May in law be murder or manslaughter.
- 7. Abbreviated to war deaths and war injuries.
An endemic disease 1 is one that permanently affects substantial segments of a population, in contrast with an epidemic 2, which spreads and then disappears within a fairly short time; when it appears in a large number of countries, it is called a pandemic 3. Certain infectious diseases 4 or communicable diseases 4 have attracted particular attention, because they are capable of infecting large numbers of persons within relatively short time intervals. In such instances we speak of epidemic diseases 5, and special epidemiological statistics 6 are collected to show their incidence. It is possible to obtain information about these illnesses in various countries because legislation has made their reporting compulsory; they are therefore called notifiable diseases 7. A distinction is sometimes made between chronic diseases 8 and acute diseases 9. These terms are not precisely defined, but acute diseases are generally understood to be those of abrupt onset and short duration while chronic diseases are those with slow onset and long duration, and often causing prolonged disability.
- 2. Epidemic, n., also used as adj.
- 4. Infectious, adj. - infect, v. - infection, n. The terms communicable diseases, contagious diseases and infectious diseases are not synonymous. A contagious disease can only be transmitted from person to person; thus, malaria, a communicable disease, is not contagious. Moreover, certain infectious diseases are not communicable.
- 6. Epidemiology, n.: the science dealing with epidemics - epidemiologist, n.: a specialist in epidemiology - epidemiological, adj.: pertaining to epidemiology. The meaning of these terms has expanded greatly, and epidemiology now covers the study of relations between a biological or medical phenomenon and various factors, such as tobacco for example in "the epidemiology of lung cancer," or alternatively the statistical analysis of geographic variations in health phenomena.
Demographers devote particular attention to certain aspects of mortality: endogenous mortality 1 which results from the genetic constitution of the individual, congenital malformations 2, injuries connected with birth, or degenerative diseases associated with aging; exogenous mortality 3, in contrast, results from external causes such as infectious or parasitic diseases and accidental injuries other than those incurred by the child during birth. Also of special interest are diseases connected with pregnancy, labor and the puerperium 4. Mortality from these latter diseases is called maternal mortality 5, and a maternal death rate 6 may be computed as the ratio of maternal deaths in a year to the births of the same year. The proportion of deaths due to senility 7 has mostly drawn interest as an index of poor reporting of causes of death.
- 1. Infant mortality (410-1) can thus be decomposed into endogenous infant mortality and exogenous infant mortality.
- 3. See note 1.
- 4. The puerperium is the lying-in period following a birth, and the mortality of mothers during the period is called puerperal mortality.
- 6. Maternal death rate is an inappropriate, but commonly used, term for a simple ratio.
- 7. Senility n. - senile, adj.
Three aspects of morbidity (420-1) are commonly measured by morbidity rates 1 or morbidity ratios 1: frequency, duration and severity. These indices may be computed for specific diseases, or for all diseases. Two indices of the frequency of ill-health are the incidence rate 2, the number of new cases of disease during the period related to the average population, and the prevalence rate 3, the number of cases existing at a given moment of time expressed per unit of the average population. Either the average duration per case 4, or the disability rate 5, which is the mean number of days of illness 5 per person in the population, may serve as a measure of the duration of illness. The case fatality rate 6, which is the proportion of fatal cases among the reported cases of the specified diseases, may be used as an index of severity.
- 5. Disability rate is an inappropriate, but commonly used, term for a ratio of the number of days lived with illness divided by the number of days lived by the entire population, both in the same time interval.
- 6. This is said to measure the lethality of the disease.
An impairment 1 refers to any physical, functional or psychological defect, which results from illness, injury or congenital malformation. When an impairment inhibits an individual’s ability to work or participate in normal activities it is referred to as incapacity 2 or disability 2. This may be total or partial; in either case, permanent disability 3 or infirmity 4 refer to an irreversible condition which gives rights to professional incapacity 7★ or work incapacity 8★ compensations. The probability that a healthy individual aged exactly x years will become disabled in the next year or over the course of some number of years starting with this exact age, is called the risk of disability 5 or the probability of disability 5. A series of these probabilities can be combined into a disability table 6, which is a specialized extension of the life table (cf. §432).
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