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By M. Alderson, R. Dowie and W. F. Maunder (Auth.)

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Rosser and Watts [B 396] tested a method for assessing the health status of patients on admission to and discharge from hospital. They make no strong distinction between a 36 HEALTH SURVEYS AND RELATED STUDIES health-status index and a measure of health outcome, since the conceptual and practical problems of devising either type of measure are similar. Chapman and Coulson [B 97] have indicated the improvements in the ability to identify the health of a community by examining data for small localities and combining examination of mortality for specific causes, infant mortality, hospitalization data, illness in and absence from school, response to immunization programmes, use of other state health services and census data.

In 1963 the adjoining townships in the Rhondda Fach were involved in a survey of intra-ocular pressure. Residents aged 40-74 were included and 91-9 per cent participated; after a home visit a clinic appointment was made. After a history had been taken the anterior segment of the eye was examined by a slit-lamp, the pressure was read using two calibrated techniques, the optic discs were examined, and a third of the subjects had theirfieldsof vision tested. Where necessary arrangements for treatment or further supervision were made [QRL 332].

The virtue of an HIS is that data from a fairly large sample of respondents may be obtained with limited expenditure of resources (compared with the use of medical and other staff to investigate the subjects). In certain circumstances by obtaining an indication of the knowledge, attitudes and practice of members of the population a more appropriate picture of their health care needs may be obtained, compared with information derived from other approaches. In particular, the respondents' answers indicate how much ill-health they perceive, their reactions to this, and the reported incapacity from the ailment.

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