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Concept: Disability-adjusted life year


Hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the United States, and is more prevalent than diabetes or cancer (1). Occupational hearing loss, primarily caused by high noise exposure, is the most common U.S. work-related illness (2). Approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous occupational noise (3). CDC compared the prevalence of hearing impairment within nine U.S. industry sectors using 1,413,789 noise-exposed worker audiograms from CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance Project (4). CDC estimated the prevalence at six hearing impairment levels, measured in the better ear, and the impact on quality of life expressed as annual disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), as defined by the 2013 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study (5). The mining sector had the highest prevalence of workers with any hearing impairment, and with moderate or worse impairment, followed by the construction and manufacturing sectors. Hearing loss prevention, and early detection and intervention to avoid additional hearing loss, are critical to preserve worker quality of life.

Concepts: United States, U.S. state, Hearing impairment, World Health Organization, Audiogram, Occupational safety and health, Disability-adjusted life year, Disease burden


The Global Burden of Diseases (GBD), Injuries, and Risk Factors study used the disability-adjusted life year (DALY) to quantify the burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. This paper provides an overview of injury estimates from the 2013 update of GBD, with detailed information on incidence, mortality, DALYs and rates of change from 1990 to 2013 for 26 causes of injury, globally, by region and by country.

Concepts: Health economics, Epidemiology, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Pharmacoeconomics, Global health, Quality-adjusted life year, Disability-adjusted life year, Disease burden


The WHO has established the disability-adjusted life year (DALY) as a metric for measuring the burden of human disease and injury globally. However, most DALY estimates have been calculated as national totals. We mapped spatial variation in the burden of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) in Uganda for the years 2000-2009. This represents the first geographically delimited estimation of HAT disease burden at the sub-country scale.

Concepts: Disease, African trypanosomiasis, Map, Quality-adjusted life year, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness, Disability-adjusted life year, Disease burden


The Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) is witnessing an increase in chronic disorders, including mental illness. With ongoing unrest, this is expected to rise. This is the first study to quantify the burden of mental disorders in the EMR. We used data from the Global Burden of Disease study (GBD) 2013. DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) allow assessment of both premature mortality (years of life lost-YLLs) and nonfatal outcomes (years lived with disability-YLDs). DALYs are computed by adding YLLs and YLDs for each age-sex-country group. In 2013, mental disorders contributed to 5.6% of the total disease burden in the EMR (1894 DALYS/100,000 population): 2519 DALYS/100,000 (2590/100,000 males, 2426/100,000 females) in high-income countries, 1884 DALYS/100,000 (1618/100,000 males, 2157/100,000 females) in middle-income countries, 1607 DALYS/100,000 (1500/100,000 males, 1717/100,000 females) in low-income countries. Females had a greater proportion of burden due to mental disorders than did males of equivalent ages, except for those under 15 years of age. The highest proportion of DALYs occurred in the 25-49 age group, with a peak in the 35-39 years age group (5344 DALYs/100,000). The burden of mental disorders in EMR increased from 1726 DALYs/100,000 in 1990 to 1912 DALYs/100,000 in 2013 (10.8% increase). Within the mental disorders group in EMR, depressive disorders accounted for most DALYs, followed by anxiety disorders. Among EMR countries, Palestine had the largest burden of mental disorders. Nearly all EMR countries had a higher mental disorder burden compared to the global level. Our findings call for EMR ministries of health to increase provision of mental health services and to address the stigma of mental illness. Moreover, our results showing the accelerating burden of mental health are alarming as the region is seeing an increased level of instability. Indeed, mental health problems, if not properly addressed, will lead to an increased burden of diseases in the region.

Concepts: Health economics, Mental health, Mental disorder, Abnormal psychology, Disability, Quality-adjusted life year, Disability-adjusted life year, Disease burden


A recent report by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) highlights that mental health receives little attention despite being a major cause of disease burden. This paper extends previous assessments of development assistance for mental health (DAMH) in two significant ways; first by contrasting DAMH against that for other disease categories, and second by benchmarking allocated development assistance against the core disease burden metric (disability-adjusted life year) as estimated by the Global Burden of Disease Studies.

Concepts: Health economics, Public health, Evaluation, Assessment, Educational psychology, Quality-adjusted life year, Disability-adjusted life year, Disease burden


We used data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010 (GBD 2010) to estimate the burden of disease attributable to mental and substance use disorders in terms of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), years of life lost to premature mortality (YLLs), and years lived with disability (YLDs).

Concepts: Epidemiology, Death, Disability-adjusted life year, Disease burden


Calculation of costs and the Burden of Disease (BoD) is useful in developing resource allocation and prioritization strategies in public and environmental health. While useful, the Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) metric disregards subclinical dysfunctions, adheres to stringent causal criteria, and is hampered by gaps in environmental exposure data, especially from industrializing countries. For these reasons, a recently calculated environmental BoD of 5.18% of the total DALYs is likely underestimated. We combined and extended cost calculations for exposures to environmental chemicals, including neurotoxicants, air pollution, and endocrine disrupting chemicals, where sufficient data were available to determine dose-dependent adverse effects. Environmental exposure information allowed cost estimates for the U.S. and the EU, for OECD countries, though less comprehensive for industrializing countries. As a complement to these health economic estimations, we used attributable risk valuations from expert elicitations to as a third approach to assessing the environmental BoD. For comparison of the different estimates, we used country-specific monetary values of each DALY. The main limitation of DALY calculations is that they are available for few environmental chemicals and primarily based on mortality and impact and duration of clinical morbidity, while less serious conditions are mostly disregarded. Our economic estimates based on available exposure information and dose-response data on environmental risk factors need to be seen in conjunction with other assessments of the total cost for these environmental risk factors, as our estimate overlaps only slightly with the previously estimated environmental DALY costs and crude calculations relying on attributable risks for environmental risk factors. The three approaches complement one another and suggest that environmental chemical exposures contribute costs that may exceed 10% of the global domestic product and that current DALY calculations substantially underestimate the economic costs associated with preventable environmental risk factors. By including toxicological and epidemiological information and data on exposure distributions, more representative results can be obtained from utilizing health economic analyses of the adverse effects associated with environmental chemicals.

Concepts: Health economics, Epidemiology, Costs, Cost, Estimation, Quality-adjusted life year, Cost underestimation, Disability-adjusted life year


BACKGROUND: Prior calculations of the burden of disease from toxic exposures have not included estimates of the burden from toxic waste sites due to the absence of exposure data. OBJECTIVE: To develop a Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY)-based estimate of the disease burden attributable to toxic waste sites. We focused on three low and middle income countries (LMICs) - India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. METHODS: Sites were identified through Blacksmith Institute’s Toxic Sites Identification Program, a global effort to identify waste sites in LMICs. At least one of eight toxic chemicals were sampled in environmental media at each site and the population at risk estimated. By combining estimates of disease incidence from these exposures with population data, we calculated the DALYs attributable to exposures at each site. RESULTS: We estimated that in 2010, 8,629,750 individuals were at risk of exposure to industrial pollutants at 373 toxic waste sites in the three countries, and that these exposures resulted in 828,722 DALYs, with a range of 814,934 to 1,557,121 DALYs depending on the weighting factor used. This disease burden is comparable to estimated burdens for outdoor air pollution (1,448,612 DALYs) and malaria (725,000 DALYs) in these countries. Lead and hexavalent chromium collectively accounted for 99.2% of the total DALYs for the chemicals evaluated. CONCLUSIONS: Toxic waste sites are responsible for a significant burden of disease in LMICs. While some factors, such as unidentified and unscreened sites, may cause our estimate to be an underestimate of the actual burden of disease, other factors, such as extrapolation of environmental sampling to the entire exposed population, may overestimate the burden of disease attributable to these sites. Toxic waste sites are a major, and heretofore under-recognized, global health problem.

Concepts: Statistics, Mathematics, Pollution, Estimation, Air pollution, Quality-adjusted life year, Disability-adjusted life year, Disease burden


No systematic attempts have been made to estimate the global and regional prevalence of amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, and opioid dependence, and quantify their burden. We aimed to assess the prevalence and burden of drug dependence, as measured in years of life lived with disability (YLDs), years of life lost (YLLs), and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).

Concepts: Morphine, Drug addiction, Heroin, Psychoactive drug, Recreational drug use, Disability-adjusted life year, Disease burden


In the Global Burden of Disease study, disease burden is measured as disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). The paramount assumption of the DALY is that it makes sense to aggregate years lived with disability (YLDs) and years of life lost (YLLs). However, this is not smooth sailing. Whereas morbidity (YLD) is something that happens to an individual, loss of life itself (YLL) occurs when that individual’s life has ended. YLLs quantify something that involves no experience and does not take place among living individuals. This casts doubt on whether the YLL is an individual burden at all. If not, then YLDs and YLLs are incommensurable. There are at least three responses to this problem, only one of which is tenable: a counterfactual account of harm. Taking this strategy necessitates a re-examination of how we count YLLs, particularly at the beginning of life.

Concepts: Health economics, Death, Disability, Pharmacoeconomics, Global health, Quality-adjusted life year, Disability-adjusted life year, Disease burden