We asked our student ambassadors why statistics are so important in the field of public health.
Ahmed Abdel-Aziz, Epidemiology student
“Statistics is the grammar of science.”
Statistics are very important within the field of public health because of how much progress they can provide for a lot of innovations or things that happen within the field.
Sufficient statistics can really pave the way for vaccines being approved, whether or not there are clear public health issues that need to be identified within certain communities, to understand risk factors for communities, and to assess healthcare’s impact on populations.
Kate Colpetzer, Health Services Management student
A public health statistic that I think is interesting is that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, medical errors are so high up on the list that it only falls below heart disease and cancer.
As an HSM student, this is a statistic that I am passionate about addressing in my future career.
Gabby Fleming, Epidemiology student
An interesting public health statistic that I know is that smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking causes approximately 8 million deaths per year, which is more than the number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.
In addition to that, smoking is a huge risk factor for other health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and various types of cancer! Here at IUPUI, we offer tobacco cessation programs for students wanting to quit today. You can visit IUPUI’s health and wellness page for more information.
Grace Hicks, Epidemiology student
Why are statistics important to the field of public health?
Whether you love them or hate them, statistics are vital to public health communication. When an outbreak or something similar occurs, statistics are used to communicate the outbreak to the general public. To ensure that the message can be understood by all, statistics are used in eye-catching ways to draw attention to the issue.
We always have to be careful with bad data or biased information. Something we learned on Day 1 about statistics is to be aware of confounding variables. Take a look at the “statistics” below.
First off, we know that no matter how good it is, ice cream doesn’t cause sharks to attack. This is a common example of confounding variables, which in this case would be the weather. More people go to the beach in the summer, and their risk of a shark attack is higher. People also like to cool down with ice cream in the summer, hence the increase in sales.
Statistics are vital to public health, but they have to be reliable. Unreliable data are null, void, and more importantly, misleading.
Shania Miller, Health Services Management student
Statistics in the field of the public are important because it aids in the understanding of social determinants or risk factors for communities, track the impact of health policy changes, and assess healthcare safety or quality.
Health statistics range from scientific data to some form of evidence or facts that can support a resolution. Also, public health statistics contribute to new medical research and notices difference within different ethnic communities, including how past events are still currently impacting generations’ health currently.
Statistic: According to Forbes, there are currently 158 million U.S. citizens on some form of government-funded insurance, which is almost half of the U.S. 330 million population.
Jaida Speth, Health Services Management student
Everyday statistics are used to support facts about health and what people can do to improve their health. Statistics can explain and describe certain events that would not be useful or clear without them.
They are essential in public health because they provide a common language for people to communicate with others—like you and me—and show trends in disease.