PHE's GBD Compare England - a new data visualisation tool created as part of the Global Burden of Disease project

Public Health England have launched an exciting new online tool - GBD Compare England -  a data visualisation tool created as part of the Global Burden of Disease project. Further information is available on Public Health Matters - the official blog of Public Health England, providing expert insight on the organisation's work and all aspects of public health. There is also an accompanying Lancet paper: Changes in health in England with analysis by English region and areas of deprivation: findings of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.

What is GBD Compare?
It’s a new online tool that for the first time enables you to rank the burden of disease for 306 conditions from 1990-2013 by region and deprivation, along with the relative impact of 79 different risk factors. All data is specifically for England and ‘burden’ of disease is measured by Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) that place values on the years of life lost to disease and the years of life lived with disability as a result of disease, and combines the two.

The Global Burden of Disease project involves more than 1,000 researchers in over 100 countries, and pulls together data on premature death and disability from more than 300 diseases and injuries in 188 countries, by age and sex, from 1990 to the present. This enables us to make meaningful comparisons between countries over time, and rank the diseases and risk factors in terms of their overall burden on a population. The ‘burden’ is measured by combining two indicators; the number of years of life lost to disease and the number of years lived with disability as a result of disease.

Who is the tool aimed at?
The tool is open access however it was developed for a predominantly professional audience. The complexity of the information available, and the terminology used, means it is most suited to data analysts specialising in public health or healthcare, healthcare professionals and researchers or academics.

How do we expect the tool to be used?
PHE's aim is that people coming to the tool are hoping for and finding new insight on how disease affects people in England, though of course many may simply take a general look to get to grips with the functionality. GBD Compare should be seen as one tool in a professional’s armoury, not the only tool. It complements, not replaces, tools like PHE’s Fingertips/Profiles tool. For instance, Fingertips uses published data sources whereas the GBD tool uses modelled data. So when using the tool, be clear about what question you want to address and the other sources of information that might inform you. GBD Compare may help to confirm what you believed to be the case, or present something completely new.

The new tool is created by IHME, the organisation behind the wider Global Burden of Disease project. PHE have had more input than ever before into the data, and the tool which visualises it, and want it to provide maximum benefit for professionals in England. The more we can promote and improve the tool, the higher the uptake will be and the more we’ll learn for future iterations. PHE therefore present the tool as a work in progress rather than the finished article.

The paper, technical guide, infographic, blog on how to use the tool and link to the live website can all be found by clicking this link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/burden-of-disease-study-for-england. The online tool also has a newly added take a tour button showing some of the basic functionality on the site before getting started.

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