News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


A new way to measure inequality in health

A new way to measure inequality in health

The Ministry of Health has published a report proposing a new method of measuring and monitoring inequality in health.

Monitoring Health Inequality Through Neighbourhood Life Expectancy uses the variations in survival across small areas to measure inequalities in health.

Deputy Director-General of Public Health, Dr Don Matheson says, "Reducing health inequalities is a key priority for the Ministry of Health and an important component of this is measuring and monitoring inequalities. Health inequalities are currently measured using average differences between social groups, especially ethnic and economic groups. While this is vital it shows only part of the picture.

"This new method can be used to examine total health inequality including both between-group and within-group inequality. It is not intended to replace current practice, but rather to complement existing monitoring of average group disparities and provide a different perspective."

The report estimates total health inequality at national and health district level for New Zealand for 1999-2003. Total health inequality was measured by calculating life expectancy at birth across small areas, more or less equivalent to neighbourhoods. The range of life expectancy at birth was approximately 5 years across District Health Boards but approximately 28 years across neighbourhoods (from approximately 65 to 93 years). Districts varied widely in their extent of total health inequality.

Dr Matheson says, "A potential application of total health inequality monitoring might be its use by District Health Boards to estimate trends in the distribution of the health of their populations over time."

Dr Matheson emphasises that, "This methodology does not measure the performance of District Health Boards, because the health of populations depends on much more than just the provision of health services. Other factors like demography and the local economy also need to be taken into account. However it does provide an overall goal for District Health Boards with regard to the equity dimension of population health.

"The purpose of this paper is to allow planners at district and national level to decide if total health inequality monitoring would be a useful strategic planning tool for them."

The publication, Monitoring Health Inequality through Neighbourhood Life Expectancy,is available at

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

Howard Davis Article: A Musical Axis - Brahms, Wagner, Sibelius

Brahms' warm and exquisitely subtle Symphony No. 3 in F major, Wagner's irrepressibly sentimental symphonic poem Siegfried Idyll, and Sibelius' chilling and immensely challenging Violin Concerto in D minor exemplify distinct stages of development in a tangled and convoluted series of skirmishes that came to define subsequent disputes about the nature of post-Romantic orchestral writing well into the following century. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: A Pale Ghost Writer

Reviewed by Ruth Brassington, Richard Flanagan's new novel is about a novelist hastily ghost-writing the biography of a crook about to go to trial. The reader is kept on a cliff-edge, as the narrator tries to get blood out of his stone man. More>>

Negotiations Begin: Equal Conditions For Men & Women In Professional Football

The trade union representing New Zealand's professional footballers has initiated bargaining for an agreement securing equal terms and conditions for men and women. If negotiated, it will be the first agreement of its kind in the world. More>>


New Zealand Wars Commemoration: Witi Ihimaera's Sleeps Standing Moetū

The second of several articles to mark Rā Maumahara, remembering the New Zealand Land Wars. The first was a Q&A with Vincent O’Malley, author of The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800–2000. More>>


Howard Davis Review: Conflict & Resistance - Ria Hall's Rules of Engagement

From the aftermath of war through colonisation to her own personal convictions, Hall's new CD addresses current issues and social problems on multiple levels, confirming her position as a polemical and preeminent voice on the indigenous NZ music scene. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland