Recommendations to plan a national burden of disease study

Romana Haneef*, Jurgen Schmidt, Anne Gallay, Brecht Devleesschauwer, Ian Grant, Alexander Rommel, Grant Ma Wyper, Herman Van Oyen, Henk Hilderink, Thomas Ziese, John Newton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The InfAct (Information for Action) project is a European Commission Joint Action on Health Information which has promoted the potential role of burden of disease (BoD) approaches to improve the current European Union-Health Information System (EU-HIS). It has done so by raising awareness of the concept, the methods used to calculate estimates and their potential implications and uses in policymaking. The BoD approach is a systematic and scientific effort to quantify and compare the magnitude of health loss due to different diseases, injuries, and risk factors with estimates produced by demographic characteristics and geographies for specific points in time. Not all countries have the resources to undertake such work, and may therefore start with a more restricted objective, e.g., a limited number of diseases, or the use of simple measures of population health such as disease prevalence or life expectancy. The main objective to develop these recommendations was to facilitate those countries planning to start a national burden of disease study.

Results: These recommendations could be considered as minimum requirements for those countries planning to start a BoD study and includes following elements: (1) Define the objectives of a burden of disease study within the context of your country, (2) Identify, communicate and secure the benefits of performing national burden of disease studies, (3) Secure access to the minimum required data sources, (4) Ensure the minimum required capacity and capability is available to carry out burden of disease study, (5) Establish a clear governance structure for the burden of disease study and stakeholder engagement/involvement, (6) Choose the appropriate methodological approaches and (7) Knowledge translation. These were guided by the results from our survey performed to identify the needs of European countries for BoD studies, a narrative overview from four European countries (Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and Scotland) and the summary of a comparative study of country health profiles with national health statistics.

Conclusions: These recommendations as minimum requirements would facilitate efforts by those European countries who intend to perform national BoD studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126
JournalArchives of Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This research has been carried out in the context of the project ‘801553 / InfAct’, which has received funding from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014–2020).

Open Access: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s).

Citation: Haneef, R., Schmidt, J., Gallay, A. et al. Recommendations to plan a national burden of disease study. Arch Public Health 79, 126 (2021).



  • Burden of Disease
  • DALYs
  • European Burden of Disease Network
  • InfAct
  • Population health
  • YLD
  • YLL
  • burden-eu


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