BURDEN 2020

The study on the Burden of Disease in Germany and its Regions uses three indicators to describe the health situation in Germany. How much lifetime do we lose at the population level due to health limitations and death, and how great is the overall Burden of Disease? What role do communicable diseases caused by viruses or bacteria play? Which noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, heart attack, or stroke, have the greatest impact on population health? Do people in certain regions lose more life than in others? Which age groups are particularly affected by individual diseases, and how significant are differences between women and men? These and other questions were framed at the beginning of the BURDEN 2020 research project in order to create an independent database to aid decision-making. It provides freely accessible information to all interested parties, researchers, and people who make decisions in health care and politics. This website presents the results of the three-year pilot project in more detail.

What does Burden of Disease mean?

Burden of disease is the data-based representation of the health status of a population. The health status is described in terms of Years of life lost due to health limitations (morbidity) and death (mortality). Both pieces of information can be combined to form the overall Burden of Disease. The years of life lost allow to compare the impact of individual diseases on population health. If this information is analyzed according to the three criteria of age, gender and region, important indications of the need for care and existing prevention potential can be obtained.

How is burden of disease measured?

Three main figures provide information on the extent of life lost. These can be reported for individual diseases or groups of diseases.

YLD Years lived with disability - describe the lifetime lost due to health limitations. A person suffering from a disease in a reporting year may lose several months of life depending on disease severity and duration. YLD represent the morbidity-related portion of the Burden of Disease.

YLL Years of life lost describe the years of life lost at the age of death compared to the statistical remaining life expectancy. A person who dies in a reporting year loses several months, years, or decades of life, depending on age. YLL represent the mortality-related portion of the burden of disease.

DALY Disability-adjusted life years are the sum of YLD and YLL and represent the total Burden of Disease in a reporting year. One DALY is equal to one year of life lost. The common unit of years of life lost allows YLD and YLL to be added to DALY, thus capturing disease and mortality together in society. YLD varies according to the duration and severity of a health limitation or disease. The YLD indicator measures 'years of life lost' as a fraction of the time spent ill. Thus, YLD is not the same as time in years spent with a disease. The amount of YLL though represents the years of life lost.