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Examine the burden of disease in the United States to provide important information on which parameter is to base decisions on public health priorities.

To do this, we will utilize mortality data for the United States. In the first part of this assignment, you will download and examine mortality data for your home state.

Go to USA Causes of Death by Age and Gender

  • Choose your home state under the Choose State option (panel on left hand side)
  • Select BOTH under the Choose gender option in the middle panel.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and read the fine print to learn for which year the mortality data have been tabulated.
  • Copy and paste the relevant mortality data into Excel.
    • Drag your mouse over all of the Cause of Death rows, (50 rows), right click, and select Copy,
    • Open Excel and paste your selection into Excel. You should have a spreadsheet with 50 row and 19 columns (Columns A-S).

For the first part of the assignment, you will prepare a histogram of the leading causes of death (regardless of age) in your state. Follow the steps below in order to prepare your histogram:

  • Sort the Data
    • The numbers of deaths, all ages, are given in Column C.
    • Select all the columns.
    • Then, select Data>Sort>Sort by Column C, Values, largest to smallest. (Make sure that my data has headers is not selected.
    • You now have the leading causes of death in your state in Column A (cause) and Column C (frequency).
  • If you already know how to draw a histogram in Excel, proceed to do so with Columns A and C, making sure to truncate the data to the 30 leading causes.
  • If you do not know how to draw a histogram in Excel, here’s one method:
    • Choose the Chart Wizard, chart type column, chart sub-type clustered column (Step 1).
    • Click Next for Step 2.
    • At Step 2, Click the Series button, which will open a new box.
    • Click Add under Series,
      • Enter Causes of Death in the Name box;
      • Clear the Values box, then
      • Drag your mouse over the 30 largest frequencies for the Values; and,
      • Drag your mouse over the first 30 causes of death (Column A) for the Category (X) axis labels box.
  • Click Next, and you’ll be brought to the Chart Options box.
  • Add a suitable title (e.g., Leading Causes of Death, 2010, your state)
  • Label the Y axis Frequency.
  • Click Next, and place the histogram in a new worksheet.

You now have a histogram with the leading causes of death for your state. This presents one picture of the burden of disease in your state, but it isn’t the only picture. We shall now look at a different metric: years of life lost due to each cause.

To do this, we will assume that the average life span is 80 years, and we will calculate how many years of life are lost for each cause of death, according to the age at death.

Please note that the ages are in categories (0 – 14, 15 – 24, 25 – 34, …, 65 – 74, and 75+). For this exercise, we will assume that the average age of death is at the middlepoint of each of these intervals (eg., 7.5, 19.5, 29.5, …, 69.5, and 80 for the last age category respectively). For example, an individual death in the 15-24 (19.5) age group incurs equals 60.5 years of life lost (80-19.5 = 60.5).

To make this histogram, we will compute a new column of values, years of life lost for each cause of death. (This entails writing a simple formula in Excel for the calculation corresponding to the first row of data, then dragging the formula down that column. If you have never done this calculation before in Excel, consult the screencast for detailed instructions.)

  • Go back to the original Excel spreadsheet that contained your data.
  • Using the formula above, create a column that calculates the years of life lost.
  • Now, sort the data by the years of life lost column, in descending order, before drawing a histogram of the results.
  • Finally, create a histogram of the 30 leading causes of death, in decreasing order of years of life lost.
    • Do not forget to label the y-axis and provide a title for the chart.

You now have two histograms representing the burden of disease in your state. The first histogram orders the causes of death in terms of overall mortality, and the second orders causes of death in terms of years of life lost.

Create a report of your findings that contains both of the histograms. The report should be at least 250-500 words supported by scholarly resources and in APA format. Assume that your task is to assess and prioritize public health needs in your state, and you need to inform and persuade policy makers for improving the well-being of your state’s constituents. Describe which findings are most relevant for this.

You should also explain any methodological or data limitations that exist in either histogram. In particular, describe your conclusions would be altered if you were to refine your findings by reanalyzing mortality rates based on gender and race in addition to age. The assignment should be at least 500 words in APA format supported by scholarly sources.


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