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Morbidity and Mortality

From a life and health science viewpoint, obtaining accurate information on the top causes of death is very important. The news all too often takes on a 'pet disease of the month' and may distort people's views on how common that condition truly is versus others that are not reported. This lesson is designed to give you an opportunity to use more reliable data to see what diseases and conditions are the most cause for alarm here in the United States and throughout the world. This will allow you to make more informed choices and make recommendations regarding how resources (time, money, etc…) should be distributed in disease research.

Part 1 - The United States of America

  1. Download the Morbidity and Mortality Excel spreadsheet for the years 1981-2007
    1. Mortality Data Spreadsheet
  2. Analysis
    • Rules
      • for cancer, use the numbers they have as a total in the cancer row
      • for heart disease, use the numbers they have in the diseases of heart row (not major cardiovascular diseases)
      • Rule: stroke is its own category
    • What was the top cause of death in 1981? Top in 2007?
    • How did the top 10 change over these years?
    • Do you think more people are killed by others (homicide) or kill themselves (suicide) each year? In 2007 what was the proportion of suicide to homicide? Did any of these years have more homicides than suicides?
  3. Using the 2007 top 10 causes of death, graph those causes over the years from 1981-2007.
    • What trends do you notice over the years for these 10 causes? How would you define the growth of the various causes? (e.g. linear, exponential, logarithmic - can be a different answer for each cause)
  4. Now use the 2007 causes 11-20 and create a second graph for all the years.
    • What trends do you see?
  5. Using your graphs and any appropriate mathematical analysis, predict the top 15 causes of death for the year 2015 and the number of people who will die from each of these causes. Explain how you arose at this prediction.


Part 2 - The World

  1. Download the WHO causes of death by region using the link below
    1. WHO Causes by Region
  2. Analysis - you need to use your Excel skills (formulas, sorting, filtering etc...) to complete this
    • Open the above file in Microsoft Excel
      • Read the 'notes' page to understand what you will be analyzing and the countries involved.
    • Analyze the data using any necessary Excel formulas to complete the following...
      • Create tables showing the top 10 causes of death in 2000 vs. 2012 globally and for each region.
        • You should have 2 tables per comparison - e.g. Global 2000 and Global 2012 etc...
      • Using only the 2012 data, create tables showing...
        • the top 10 causes of death in the world for males?
        • the top 10 causes of death in the world for females?
        • the top 10 causes of death in each region for males?
        • the top 10 causes of death in each region for females?
        • the top 10 causes of death globally and for each region for the following age groups...
          • Ages 0-27 days
          • Ages 1-59 months
          • Ages 5-14
          • Ages 15-59
          • Ages 60+
    • Rule: use the bold numbers associated with each letter (A, B, C, etc...) except for...
      • Rule: under section A (Infectious and parasitic diseases), separate out those causes by number - e.g. tuberculosis, STDs(combined), HIV/AIDS, diarrhoeal diseases, etc...
      • Rule: under Cardiovascular diseases, use "Ischemic Heart Disease" as heart disease and use stroke as its own thing.
      • Rule: under Injuries, keep all 'Unintentional injuries' together but separate the 'Intentional injuries' into what are effectively suicides and homicides and war(?).
  3. Create a graph of the top 10 causes for each task above. Choose a graphic format that best represents the data.
  4. Compare the above and discuss the similarities and differences between these graphs.
  5. Compare and discuss the total number of deaths due to communicable diseases versus non-communicable diseases.


Part 3 - USA vs The World

  1. Discuss the similarities and differences between the world top 10 causes of death and the top 10 causes in the United States.
    • Because there are vastly different populations in each country/region, you will have to look at 'rate of death' in order to fairly compare similar causes. This is usually done as 'deaths per 100,000 population'. So you must calculate those rates.
    • Find an example in the tables where the total number of deaths for a given cause is misleading when comparing countries/regions vs. using the rate of deaths per 100,000 population. Briefly discuss this example.
    • Compare suicide vs. homicide in each region. Is the ratio roughly the same for each region?



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