Leveraging Health-Related Quality of Life in Population Health Management: The Case for Healthy Days

Popul Health Manag. 2017 Feb;20(1):13-22. doi: 10.1089/pop.2015.0162. Epub 2016 Mar 31.


Measuring population health with morbidity and mortality data, often collected at the site of care, fails to capture the individual's perspective on health and well-being. Because health happens outside the walls of medical facilities, a holistic and singular measure of health that can easily be captured for an entire population could aid in understanding the well-being of communities. This paper postulates that Healthy Days, a health-related quality of life measure developed and validated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is an ideal survey instrument to advance population health. A systematic literature review was conducted and revealed a strong evidence base using Healthy Days with significant correlations to chronic disease conditions. Building on the literature base and experience, methods for analyzing Healthy Days data are discussed, including stratified sampling techniques, statistical measures to account for variance, and modeling techniques for skewed distributions. Using such analytic techniques, Healthy Days has been used extensively in national health surveillance. As the health care system faces increasing costs and constrained resources, the Healthy Days survey instrument can be used to inform public policies and allocate health service resources. Because Healthy Days captures broad dimensions of health from the individual's perspective, it is a simple way to holistically measure the health and well-being of a population and its trend over time. Expanded use of Healthy Days can aid population health managers and contribute to the understanding of the broader determinants of the nation's and individual community's health and aid in evaluating progress toward health goals.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Population Health*
  • Public Policy
  • Quality of Life*
  • United States