Dutch DALYs, current and future burden of disease in the Netherlands

Henk B. M. Hilderink, Marjanne H. D. Plasmans, M. J. J. C. (René) Poos, Petra E. D. Eysink & Ronald Gijsen 

Archives of Public Health Volume 78, Article number: 85 (2020)


The Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY) is a measure to prioritize in the public health field. In the Netherlands, the DALY estimates are calculated since 1997 and are included in the Public Health Status and Foresight studies which is an input for public health priority setting and policy making. Over these 20 years, methodological advancements have been made, including accounting for multimorbidity and performing projections for DALYs into the future. Most important methodological choices and improvements are described and results are presented.

The DALY is composed of the two components years of life lost (YLL) due to premature mortality and years lost due to disability (YLD). Both the YLL and the YLD are distinguished by sex, age and health condition, allowing aggregation to the ICD-10 chapters. The YLD is corrected for multimorbidity, assuming independent occurrence of health conditions and a multiplicative method for the calculation of combined disability weights. Future DALYs are calculated based on projections for causes of death, and prevalence and incidence.

The results for 2015 show that cancer is the ICD-10 chapter with the highest disease burden, followed by cardiovascular diseases and mental disorders. For the individual health conditions, coronary heart disease had the highest disease burden in 2015. In 2040, we see a strong increase in disease burden of dementia and arthrosis. For dementia this is due to a threefold increase in dementia as a cause of death, while for arthrosis this is mainly due to the increase in prevalence.

To calculate the DALY requires a substantial amount of data, methodological choices, interpretation and presentation of results, and the personnel capacity to carry out all these tasks. However, doing a National Burden of Disease study, and especially doing that for more than 20 years, proved to have an enormous additional value in population health information and thus supports better public health policies.

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Dutch DALYs, current and future burden of disease in the Netherlands