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Daniel J. Friedman, Edward L. Hunter, and R. Gibson Parrish

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195149289

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195149289.001.0001

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Health Statistics in Historical Perspective

Health Statistics in Historical Perspective

(p.24) Chapter 2 Health Statistics in Historical Perspective
Health Statistics

John M. Eyler

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides an overview of the history of health statistics, starting with the pioneering work of Graunt in London in the 17th century on the Bills of Mortality. It discusses the role of the census of population in various countries in the development of population-based statistics, followed by a description of early mortality statistics in the United States. It was not until the 19th century and the work of William Farr, however, that the intellectual basis of modern health statistics was laid. The chapter details Farr's contributions to the systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of mortality and other data by the General Registrar Office in England, and his contributions to pubic health-based reforms through the application of health statistics to pressing social and health problems of his day. The chapter concludes with an account of the creation of the U.S. National Health Survey in 1956 and its influence on contemporary health statistics.

Keywords:   Graunt, Bills of Mortality, morality statistics, morbidity, public health, William Farr, National Health Survey

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