Skip to main content

Health Outcomes

HEALTH OUTCOMES

The term "health outcomes" describes the consequences of an encounter between a patient and the health care system, and is generally accepted to mean the end result of an episode of illness or injury that has been treated. The potential range of unsatisfactory outcomes have been alliteratively identified as "death, disease, disability, disruption, discomfort, and dissatisfaction." Of course, another possible outcome is complete and full recovery with joy and happiness all around. Both positive and negative outcomes can be identified (most of them easily and objectively), counted, and classified, thereby facilitating the evaluation of health care systems and services.

It is important for health care providers and facilities to take action to address unsatisfactory health outcomes. Death, when it is untimely or untoward, especially if it is attributable to a medical misadventure or mistake, is an unmistakable indicator of shortcomings in the health care system. Disease, in this context, signifies complications or adverse effects of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, such as hospital-acquired infections, blood clots associated with immobilization in bed, and innumerable other mishaps great and small. Disability refers to permanent or long-term consequences of the encounter between a patient and the health care system, again a very diverse range of possibilities. Disruption means incapacity to resume previously customary activities at work or home. Discomfort can be assessed through patient reports of symptoms such as pain and sleeplessness, and it can be measured by the need for analgesics, sleeping pills, and other medications. Dissatisfaction is revealed by responses to direct questions, and can be unobtrusively assessed by such means as failure to return for scheduled appointments and aftercare. In a well-run health care system all these outcome indicators are assessed and recorded, and action is taken to remedy shortcomings as they are detected.

John M. Last

(see also: Administration of Public Health Services; Hospital Administration )

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Health Outcomes." Encyclopedia of Public Health. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Health Outcomes." Encyclopedia of Public Health. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/health-outcomes

"Health Outcomes." Encyclopedia of Public Health. . Retrieved August 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/health-outcomes

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.