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NM-IBIS Glossary

This page provides definitions for common public health assessment and epidemiology concepts. It also serves as an index to additional resources on the NM-IBIS system.


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10 Essential Public Health Services

The 10 Essential Public Health Services were developed in 1994 by the U.S. Public Health Service and include services such as "Monitor health status," "Diagnose and investigate health problems," and "Mobilize community partnerships." For more information, see CDC's National Public Health Performance Standards Program Website.

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The Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO) is the national nonprofit organization representing public health agencies in the United States, the U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia. ASTHO's voting membership includes the chief health officials for each U.S. state and territory. ASTHO members formulate and influence sound public health policy and promote excellence in state-based public health practice. ASTHO Website. See also N.A.C.C.H.O..


Advocacy refers to organized efforts to change or influence policies. See also Policy.

Age-adjusted Rate

An age-adjusted rate is a form of a rate that controls for age effects, allowing better comparability of rates across geographic areas. Age-adjustment may also be used to control for age effects when comparing across several years of data, as the age distribution of the population changes over time. See also Direct Age Standardization and Indirect Age Standardization. [more on age-adjusted rates...]

Age-specific Birth Rate

The age-specific birth rate is the number of live births in a specific age group of women per 1,000 women in that age group in the population. The teen birth rate is considered an age-specific birth rate. Age-specific Birth Rates for New Mexico can be calculated using the Birth Data Custom Query section of the NM-IBIS Website. See also Crude Birth Rate.

Age-specific Rate

An age-specific rate is a rate in which both the numerator (number of events) and denominator (number in population at risk) are limited to a specific age group. It is calculated by dividing the total number of health events for the specific age group of interest by the total population in that age group. [more on age-specific rates...]


An artifact is any representation in data, such as choice of methodology, or observational or data entry errors, that would cause a datum to misrepresent its true value.


Assessment is the regular and systematic collection, assembly, analysis, and dissemination of information about the health of a community. Public health assessment, policy development and assurance of access to quality health care are considered the three core functions of government in public health. (Institute of Medicine (1988) The Future of Public Health, National Academies Press.) See also Community Health Assessment.

Attributable Fraction

The theoretical proportion of the rate or number of cases of an adverse health outcome that can be attributed to a given risk factor.

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Data collected using the 1997 OMB standard for collection of race and ethnicity information are not directly comparable to those that were collected using the 1977 standard. To permit trend analysis, a methodology was developed to "bridge" population estimates that were collected using the 1997 standard back to the categories used in the 1977 standard. [more on race and ethnicity measurement...]

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CSTE stands for "Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists." CSTE is a professional organization for public health epidemiologists. Visit the CSTE Website for more information.

Cause / Cause-and-Effect

There is philosophical debate about the meaning of 'cause,' but for a working definition in epidemiology, we can use a definition from Rothman and Greenland, Causation and Causal Inference in Epidemiology, "...a cause of a specific disease event [is] an antecedent event, condition, or characteristic that was necessary for the occurrence of the disease at the moment it occurred, given that other conditions are fixed."

Choropleth Map

Choropleth maps display data for predefined geographic areas. The areas on a choropleth map are shaded or patterned to reflect values of a variable such as population density or birth rate. [more on NM-IBIS Choropleth Maps...]

Coefficient of Variation (CV)

Community Action Teams

Community action teams are generally task forces or committees established to plan and implement activities that address a particular health priority. They may include health council members as well as other community stakeholders.

Community Health Assessment

Community health assessment is a process of identifying and quantifying the needs, conditions, and resources of communities with respect to health and health care. Community health assessment processes include gathering secondary or published data and primary data (locally-generated data through surveys, focus groups, interviews, or other means); analyzing and interpreting the data; and establishing priorities for community health improvement. See also Assessment.

Community Health Status Indicators

Having a common set of core health status measures can help communities conduct health assessments and identify priority health issues. The 46 Community Health Status Indicators (CHSIs) provide consistent and comparable health assessment information for New Mexico Department of Health and our community partners to work collaboratively to improve community health. [more on New Mexico CHSIs...]

Community Mapping

Community mapping consists of the visual representation of data by geography or location, in order to link information to place. Mapping is often used to identify and locate community assets or services in relation to the populations they serve, in order to maximize access throughout a given geographic area (neighborhood, city, region, state, or nation). Other uses include identifying liquor store densities to neighborhood grocery stores and environments that encourage physical activity. Mapping provides tools for identifying, analyzing, and communicating visually the patterns that affect community health.

Comparability Ratio

A comparability ratio measures the level of agreement between ICD-9 and ICD-10 classification systems. NCHS calculated comparability ratios for 113 selected causes of death by using a double-coding exercise using 1996 death data. NCHS coded 1.8 million death certifications from 1996 first using ICD-9 and then using ICD-10. Based on that double-coding, NCHS has produced the set of Comparability Ratios for 113 Selected Causes of Death. Each ratio is an expression of the results of the comparison as a ratio of death for a cause of death by the later revision divided by the number of cause of death coded and classified by the earlier revision. To accurately portray trends that include both years 1980-1998 and 1999 on, the death counts or rates for the earlier years must be "comparability modified." This is accomplished by multiplying the earlier death count (or rate) by the comparability ratio for that cause of death. Use comparability-adjusted mortality counts and rates only when you need to display years 1998 and earlier together with years 1999 and later. [Click here for comparability ratios for NCHS leading causes.]

Confidence Interval

The confidence interval may be thought of as the range of probable true values for a statistic. In general, as a population or sample size increases, the confidence interval gets smaller. Estimates with smaller confidence intervals are referred to as more "precise." Less precise estimates, such as those calculated from small numbers, tend to have wide confidence intervals. Typically, the 95% confidence interval (calculated as 1.96 times the standard error of a statistic) indicates the range of values within which the statistic would fall 95% of the time if the researcher were to calculate the statistic (e.g., a percentage or rate) from an infinite number of samples of the same size drawn from the same base population. [more on confidence intervals...]

Confounding Variable

The confounding variable is a variable that is related to, and may obscure one's view of, the variable of interest. For instance, when examining death rates across populations, the population's age distribution can be a confounding variable because higher death rates will be found in populations with a greater proportion of persons in older age groups. In such a case, one could use an age-adjusted rate to compare the populations.


A count is simply the number of health events, such as a death or a reported disease incident, that occurred within a specified time period. [more on health event counts...]

Crude Birth Rate

The crude birth rate is the number of live births per 1,000 persons (males and females) in the population. See also Age-specific Birth Rate.

Crude Rates

A crude rate is a rate that has not been adjusted for artifacts or confounding variables, such as the age and sex composition of a population. [more on crude rates...]

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DALY stands for "Disability Adjusted Life Years," and is a summary measure of the impact of premature death and disability on the length and quality of life. It is defined by the World Health Organization as, "The sum of years of potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability." See also Y.P.L.L., Q.A.L.Y.

Descriptive Epidemiology

The study of the amount and distribution of a disease in a specified population by person, place, and time.


The denominator is the divisor in division (for instance, where 12/3=4, the number 3 is known as the divisor, 12 is the dividend and 4 is the quotient). In public health, the denominator for a disease rate is the number of persons (or person-years) at risk, or the estimated population. For instance, for 23 deaths in a population of 15,000, the death rate would be 23/15,000, or 0.001533, or 153.3 per 100,000 population. In that example, 15,000 is referred to as the denominator. NMDOH standard population data files, NMDOH Principles for Updating Numerator and Denominator Data

Direct Age Standardization

Direct age standardization, also known as direct age adjustment, uses the observed rates in an index population and adjusts them to the age distribution of a standard population. See also Age-adjusted Rate, and Indirect Age Standardization. [more on age-adjusted rates...]



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A disease or condition that is present in a community at all times but at a relatively low level.


The occurrence of more cases of a disease than would be expected in a community or region during a given time period.


Epidemiology is the study of how often disease occurs in different groups of people and why. In public health, epidemiology is also concerned with development of an appropriate response to disease in a population.


Ethnicity is a term that refers to social groups with a shared history, sense of identity, geography and cultural roots which may occur despite racial differences. Ethnicity shapes a group's culture - food, language, music, and customs. We all have an ethnicity, but the term is often used only in reference to persons of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity versus those of non-Hispanic/Latino ethnicity. See also Race. [more on race and ethnicity measurement and coding...]


Evaluation refers to a set of tools or procedures to demonstrate or measure progress in achieving specific outcomes, goals, and objectives. Evaluation involves the systematic collection, analysis, and reporting of information to assist in planning and decision-making. Program-level evaluations measure benefits for specific populations served. Community-level evaluations measure benefits for community residents resulting from changes in community systems, organizations, neighborhoods, or networks.


Evidence-based public health practice is the careful, intentional and sensible use of current best scientific evidence in making decisions about the choice and application of public health interventions. [more on evidence-based public health practice...]

Evidence-based Community Health

Community programs, strategies, or interventions that have been shown through research or evaluation to have been effective in achieving desired health outcomes with similar populations or communities. See also Evidence-based.



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Fetal Mortality Rate

Fetal deaths of 16 or more weeks gestation per 1,000 deliveries. The number of deliveries consists of live births plus fetal deaths = (Total Fetal Deaths / (Total Live Births + Total Fetal Deaths)) x 1,000.

FIPS Codes

FIPS stands for Federal Information Processing Standards Codes for states, counties, and named populated places. The state FIPS code for New Mexico is 35000. New Mexico county codes are not consecutive and range from 35001 (Bernalillo) to 35061 (Valencia). List of New Mexico County FIPS codes | U.S. Geological Survey FIPS Website

Fundamentals of Public Health


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General Fertility Rate

The general fertility rate is the number of live births per 1,000 females of childbearing age between the ages of 15-44 years. (The age range can differ, depending on the source, so it is important to note what age range is being used especially when comparing to data from other sources). Note: See also "Fertility Rate," the number of live births per all women in the population. See also Age-specific Birth Rate, Crude Birth Rate and Total Fertility Rate.


Geocoding is a process that assigns each data record x and y coordinates that correspond (ultimately) to the Earth's latitude and longitude. The geo-coordinates may then be used to locate the record on a map or in another geography (e.g., a county or census tract). [more on Geocoding...]

Gestational Age

Gestational Age is the period of time a baby is carried in the uterus or the duration of the pregnancy, measured from the first day of the last menstrual period. Full-term gestation is considered between 37 and 42 weeks. Average Gestational age for New Mexico births can be calculated using the Births Custom Query section of the NM-IBIS Website.


A goal is a statement used in a planning process that describes a future desired state. Goals provide programmatic direction. Goals focus on ends rather than means. See also Objective and S.M.A.R.T. Objectives.


Gravidity refers to the number of times a woman has been pregnant, regardless of whether a pregnancy resulted in a live birth. For instance, a woman who was pregnant once and miscarried would be considered, "gravida 1." See also Parity.

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Health Disparities

Differences in health status among distinct populations, such as racial and ethnic groups, rural vs. urban, different income groups, and populations of specific geographic areas. Health disparities generally refer to differences in health that are closely linked with social or economic disadvantage. Health disparities negatively affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social or economic obstacles to health. These obstacles stem from characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion such as race or ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, mental health, sexual orientation, or geographic location. Other characteristics include cognitive, sensory, or physical disability. (Adapted from Healthy People 2020, U.S. Dept. of Health and human Services)

Health Regions, New Mexico

New Mexico's Counties are classified into five health regions. Map of New Mexico's Health Regions, effective September 4, 2012. Visit the New Mexico County FIPS Codes page for a list of county names, FIPS codes, and health regions.


Healthy People 2010 is an initiative of the U.S. Public Health Service that established over 400 health objectives for the Nation through a public process. The initiative also defined quantifiable measures. The objectives are to be achieved by the year 2010. They are typically used by public health organizations and programs to track progress and improve population health status. HealthyPeople2020 Website.

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ICD Codes

ICD Stands for International Classification of Diseases. It is a coding system maintained by the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics used to classify causes of death on death certificates and diagnoses, injury causes, and medical procedures for hospital and emergency department visits. These codes are updated every decade or so to account for advances in medical technology. The U.S. is currently using the 10th revision (ICD-10) to code causes of death. The 9th revision (ICD-9) is still in use for hospital and emergency department visits until October of 2015. [more on ICD codes...]

ICD-O Codes

Specialized ICD codes, called ICD-Oncology, or ICD-O, are used to classify cancer diagnoses by site and type (e.g., lung, breast, leukemia, lymphoma). For more on the oncology ICD codes, see the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results cancer registry) Website.


Incidence is the number of new cases (e.g., of disease) in a given period of time. See also Prevalence.

Index Population


A health indicator is a numeric measure that depicts population health or health system status on a core public health construct.

Indirect Age Standardization

Indirect age standardization uses the observed rates in a standard population and uses the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) to adjust them to the age distribution of the index population. See also Age-adjusted Rate, and Direct Age Standardization. [more on age-adjusted rates...] [more on indirect age standardization...]

Infant Mortality Rate

Infant mortality is defined as the death of an infant under one year of age. The Infant Mortality Rate is most often calculated as infant deaths in a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year (death period method). The rate may also be calculated as death of infants born in a given year per 1,000 infants born in that year (birth cohort method). See also Neonatal Mortality Rate, and Postneonatal Mortality Rate.


Occurring between decennial (every ten year) censuses. E.g., 2000-2010 intercensal population estimates are estimates that were derived for years 2000-2010, taking into account the 2010 decennial census population estimates. See also Postcensal.

Interpregnancy Interval

The interpregnancy interval is the time (in months) between the completion of one pregnancy resulting in a live born infant and conception of the next pregnancy. Interpregnancy Interval for New Mexico births can be calculated using the Births Custom Query section of the NM-IBIS Website.


Surveillance is the systematic collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of health data on an ongoing basis. Surveillance is conducted to identify potential public health threats, and to gain knowledge of the pattern of disease occurrence and risk in a community. See also Surveillance.

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Jenks Natural Breaks

The Jenks Natural Breaks method, also referred to as the Jenks Optimization method, is a data-classification method designed identifies breaks in the ordered distribution of values that minimizes the variance within classes and maximizes the variance between classes. The method was developed with the intention of dividing data into relatively few data classes (seven or fewer) for mapping purposes. [more on NM-IBIS Choropleth Maps...]


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Kotelchuck Index

The Kotelchuck Index, also called the Adequacy of Prenatal Care Utilization (APNCU) Index, uses two crucial elements obtained from birth certificate data - when prenatal care began (initiation) and the number of prenatal visits from when prenatal care began until delivery (received services). The Kotelchuck index classifies the adequacy of initiation as Inadequate (received fewer than 50% of expected visits), Intermediate (50%-79%), Adequate (80%-109%), or Adequate Plus (110% of visits or more). [more on the Kotelchuck Index...]

Kessner Index

The traditional measure of prenatal care used in New Mexico has been a modified Kessner index. Levels of prenatal care are defined by using a combination of factors: the month prenatal care began and the number of prenatal visits made. A low level of care is defined as care that begins in the third trimester with less than five or no prenatal care visits. A high level of care is defined as care that began during the first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy with nine or more prenatal care visits occurring during that period. Mid level care is defined as care that began during the first trimester with 5-8 prenatal visits, or care beginning in the fourth to sixth month of pregnancy with 5 or more visits.

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Large for Gestational Age

Large for gestational age (LGA) is a term used to describe a baby who is larger than usual for the number of weeks of pregnancy. LGA babies usually have birthweights above the 90th percentile for babies of the same gestational age. This means that they weigh more than 90 percent of all other babies of the same gestational age. See also Gestational Age.

Leading Causes of Death

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy is the average expected number of years of life remaining from a given age, in a given population, according to the current mortality experience (age-specific death rates) of persons in the same population. Life expectancy is calculated from a table called a "Life Table." It is most often expressed as the life expectancy from birth, but is also commonly expressed as life expectancy from age 65. [more on Life Expectancy...]

Logic Model

A logic model is a graphic representation or framework for understanding a program or set of activities. A logic model provides a picture of what goes into a program, what the program does, and what the results are. Logic models are useful tools for both planning and evaluation. See also Evaluation.

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Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) is a community-driven strategic planning process for improving community health. Facilitated by public health leaders, this framework helps communities apply strategic thinking to prioritize public health issues and identify resources to address them. MAPP is not an agency-focused assessment process; rather, it is an interactive process that can improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and ultimately the performance of local public health systems. (Definition downloaded from on 8/8/2012).


The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) is a weekly report of state-based notifiable disease surveillance and other timely events of interest prepared and distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MMWR Website

M.M.W.R. Week

The MMWR week is the week of the epidemiologic year for which the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) disease report is assigned for the purposes of MMWR disease incidence reporting and publishing. When a notifiable disease case is reported to the state or local health department, it is assigned (coded) to an MMWR Week. Calendar Dates for MMWR Weeks (2006-2025)


NM-IBIS maps are available for both queries and indicator reports. For information on choropleth map groupings, visit the Data Grouping Options for NM-IBIS Maps page.

Maternal Mortality Rate

Number of deaths from complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium per 100,000 live births = (Total Maternal Deaths / Total Live Births) x 100,000.


The mean is a measure of central tendency, also called an "average." The mean is calculated by summing the values in a set and then dividing by the number of values that are in the set. For instance, John is 30 and Mary is 38. Their mean age is (30+38)/2, or 68/2, or 34.


The median is a measure of central tendency. It is the 50th percentile, or the value for which 50% of the scores are lower and 50% of the scores are higher. The median is not sensitive to extreme values, making it a better choice than the mean as a measure of central tendency for variables with extreme values. For instance, household income has a fixed "floor" value of zero, but on the other end, there are typically a small number of extremely large values. Those extreme values will drive up the calculated value of the average or mean.


The mode is a measure of central tendency. It is the score that occurs with the greatest frequency. In other words, the most common score.


Morbidity is another term for illness. Morbidities are not deaths, and occur among the population of living persons. Examples of morbidities include Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and traumatic brain injury. Incidence and Prevalence are measures often used to describe the extent of morbidity in a population.


Mortality is another term for death. A mortality rate is the number of deaths due to a disease divided by the number of persons in the population.

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The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). NACCHO's members are the 2700 local health departments across the United States. NACCHO's mission is to be a leader, partner, catalyst, and voice for local health departments to ensure the conditions that promote health and equity, combat disease, and improve the quality and length of all lives. NACCHO Website. See also A.S.T.H.O..

N.C.H.S. Leading Causes

In order to provide a ranking standard the NCHS (National Center for Health Statistics) prepared a list of 113 selected causes of death that are reported on the death certificate. The NCHS 50 leading causes of death are taken from the list of 113. Other classification schemes are used, such as the STIPDA external causes of injury and the ICD-O causes of cancer deaths. For more information about the NCHS rankings, see the Cause of Death Ranking Vital Statistics Report. Leading causes of death for New Mexico can be calculated using the Mortality Custom Query section of the NM-IBIS Website. [list of NCHS leading causes...]

Neonatal Mortality Rate

Deaths among infants under 28 days of age per 1,000 live births = (Total Deaths Among Infants <28 Days of Age / Total Live Births) x 1,000. See also Infant Mortality Rate, and Postneonatal Mortality Rate.


The numerator is the dividend in division (for instance, where 12/3=4, the number 3 is known as the divisor, 12 is the dividend and 4 is the quotient). In public health, the numerator for a disease rate is the number of cases of, or persons with a health condition of interest. For instance, for 23 deaths in a population of 15,000, the death rate would be 23/15,000, or 0.001533, or 153.3 per 100,000 population. In that example, 23 is referred to as the numerator. See also, NMDOH Principles for Updating Numerator and Denominator Data.

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