Lesson 2: Premature Mortality
Before we can evaluate the remedy for a public health problem, we need to accurately evaluate the seriousness of that problem. One way to do this is to measure both some causes of premature death and the extent of premature death. One popular measure for premature mortality is years of potential life lost (YPLL). It can be defined as “ a public health measure that reflects the impact of deaths occurring in years preceding a conventional cut – off year of age ” ( “ Years of Potential Life Lost . . . , ” 1992). Often the cut – off year of age is seventy-five, because that is about the present average life expectancy in this country. YPLL is typically determined for specific causes of death. When this calculation is compared over dynamic populations, it is helpful to calculate the rate per
one thousand people in each age group. YPLL has been often used by public health officials over the last several years in intense evaluation of prevention programs.