Health inequality monitoring foundations: Summary measures of health inequality

Summary measures of health inequality use disaggregated data to concisely synthesize the level of inequality across population subgroups. They are commonly applied as part of health inequality analysis and reporting. In this course, learners are introduced to the general characteristics of summary measures and guided through considerations for the selection, calculation, interpretation, and reporting of a range of simple and complex summary measures.

Photo credits: WHO / Blink Media - Daiana Valencia

Self-paced
Language: English
Not disease specific

Course information

Overview: Health inequality monitoring draws on disaggregated data to assess and quantify how health varies across two or more population subgroups. Summary measures of health inequality use disaggregated data to express the extent of inequality using a single number.
This course is an introduction to summary measures that are used in health inequality monitoring. The course provides an overview of the defining characteristics of summary measures and the considerations for the selection and use of simple and complex summary measures in health inequality analysis and reporting. Learners are also guided through best practices for interpreting and reporting summary measures, including an introduction to the functionality of the WHO Health Equity Assessment Toolkit (HEAT). The target audience is monitoring and evaluation officers, researchers and analysts, though the course is suitable for anyone with a general interest in health data and inequality monitoring.

This course is part of the Health Inequality Monitoring Foundations series, featuring the following courses: (1) Overview, (2) Data Sources, (3) Health Data Disaggregation, (4) Summary Measures of Health Inequality and (5) Reporting.

Course duration: Approximately 1.5 hours

Certificates: A Record of Achievement will be available to participants who score at least 80% of the total points available in the final assessment. Participants who receive a Record of Achievement can also download an Open Badge for this course. Click here to learn how.

What you'll learn

  • The purpose of summary measures, and how they pertain to the steps of the health inequality monitoring cycle
  • Defining characteristics of summary measures and how these are taken into consideration when making analysis and reporting decisions
  • Calculation of simple summary measures
  • Selection of appropriate complex measures and tools to aid with their calculation
  • Best practices for reporting summary measures

Course contents

  • Introduction:

    This module describes summary measures of health inequality and situates them within the health inequality monitoring cycle. It then introduces the forthcoming components of the course.
  • Module 1: Defining characteristics of summary measures:

    Module 1 provides an overview of the defining characteristics of summary measures of health inequality. By the end of the module, you will differentiate between summary measures that are: simple or complex; ordered or non-ordered data; weighted or unweighted; and absolute or relative. You will discuss how reference points may be selected for use in summary measures.
  • Module 2: Simple summary measures:

    Module 2 details the use of simple summary measures of inequality. By the end of the module, you will: distinguish between favourable and adverse health indicators; calculate difference and ratio; and discuss how the calculation of simple summary measures can account for the number of subgroups and indicator type.
  • Module 3: Complex summary measures:

    Module 3 provides guidance on the selection and calculation of complex summary measures of health inequality. By the end of the module, you will: consult a decision chart to select appropriate complex summary measures of health inequality; describe the application of select complex summary measures; and access resources and tools to aid in calculating complex summary measures.
  • Module 4: Interpreting and reporting summary measures:

    Module 4 describes considerations for interpreting and reporting summary measures of inequality. By the end of the module, you will: discuss common issues and considerations for interpreting summary measures and deriving conclusions about the state of inequality; describe best practices for reporting summary measures; use text, tables, figures, maps and interactive visuals to effectively report summary measures.
  • Final Assesment

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Certificate Requirements

  • Gain a Record of Achievement by earning at least 80% of the maximum number of points from all graded assignments.