The levels of illness and disease in a population, also referred to as morbidity, can be challenging to measure directly. Hospitalization rates are therefore often used as a proxy measure for morbidity rates and are presented here as such.
In this section, broad categories of hospitalizations are presented as an overview of the overall conditions that make people sick. More detailed findings about illnesses are discussed in other sections of the report.
Between the years 2003 to 2009, the rate of hospitalizations declined steadily over time in Middlesex-London. These rates were significantly lower than for Ontario and the Peer Group. The rate of hospitalizations increased with age, with the exception of females aged 20 to 44. Due to pregnancy and childbirth, these women had higher rates of hospitalization than any other group. It is noteworthy that these numbers also reflect normal childbirth which is, of course, not a reflection of morbidity in the population. For those 45 years of age and over, males had higher rates of hospitalizations than females.
After pregnancy-related hospitalizations, digestive diseases (including diseases from the mouth through the digestive track) and circulatory system diseases (including diseases related to the heart and blood vessels) were the leading causes of serious illness in Middlesex-London across all age groups. For children in the youngest age group, aged 0 to 9 years, respiratory diseases (diseases related to the lungs and respiratory system) were the leading cause of hospitalization for both males and females. Among males 10 to 19 and 20 to 44 years of age, injury was the leading cause of hospitalization. Among females in the same age groups, pregnancy and childbirth was the leading reason for hospitalization, followed by digestive diseases. The profile of leading causes of hospitalization differed for females and males between the ages of 45 and 64. Digestive diseases, were the leading reason for hospitalization among females, while circulatory diseases, were the leading cause for males. Finally, circulatory diseases were the leading cause of hospitalization for both sexes among those 65 years of age and over.
Another proxy measure for the prevalence of illness and disease in a population is self-reported health. Nearly 90% of the population in Middlesex-London rated their own health as good or excellent, and about 70% reported never experiencing activity limitations due to long-term health problems. About 11% of Middlesex-London residents reported experiencing activity limitations due to physical or mental health problems ‘often’, needing help because of them, and perceiving themselves as having poor or fair health.