Basic Statistics: About Incidence, Prevalence, Morbidity, and Mortality - Statistics Teaching Tools

What is incidence?

Incidence is a measure of disease that allows us to determine a person's probability of being diagnosed with a disease during a given period of time. Therefore, incidence is the number of newly diagnosed cases of a disease. An incidence rate is the number of new cases of a disease divided by the number of persons at risk for the disease. If, over the course of one year, five women are diagnosed with breast cancer, out of a total female study population of 200 (who do not have breast cancer at the beginning of the study period), then we would say the incidence of breast cancer in this population was 0.025. (or 2,500 per 100,000 women-years of study)

What is prevalence?

Prevalence is a measure of disease that allows us to determine a person's likelihood of having a disease. Therefore, the number of prevalent cases is the total number of cases of disease existing in a population. A prevalence rate is the total number of cases of a disease existing in a population divided by the total population. So, if a measurement of cancer is taken in a population of 40,000 people and 1,200 were recently diagnosed with cancer and 3,500 are living with cancer, then the prevalence of cancer is 0.118. (or 11,750 per 100,000 persons)

What is morbidity?

Morbidity is another term for illness. A person can have several co-morbidities simultaneously. So, morbidities can range from Alzheimer's disease to cancer to traumatic brain injury. Morbidities are NOT deaths. Prevalence is a measure often used to determine the level of morbidity in a population.

What is mortality?

Mortality is another term for death. A mortality rate is the number of deaths due to a disease divided by the total population. If there are 25 lung cancer deaths in one year in a population of 30,000, then the mortality rate for that population is 83 per 100,000.