You are here: 
text zoom : S | M | L
Printer Friendly Version
Further Enquiries

Population Research and Outcome Studies
Level 7
North Terrace
SA 5000

Telephone: (08) 8313 1214
Fax: (08) 8313 1228

South Australian Monitoring and Surveillance System (SAMSS)

Background | Data collection & questionnaire | Methodology  | Technical Reports | Methodological Publications

return to top


The South Australian Monitoring and Surveillance System (SAMSS) was established in 2002 by Population Research and Outcome Studies (PROS) when PROS was situated within SA Health.  PROS continue to operate SAMSS although all data belong to SA Health.

The objectives of SAMSS are to:

  • Provide high quality, representative data;
  • Characterise the problem or topic by time;
  • Detect epidemics or changes in the topic occurrence;
  • Identify high risk groups or risk factors associated with the problem or topic and to suggest hypotheses for further investigation;
  • Estimate the burden of the problem or topic;
  • Highlight gaps in information and services that affect South Australians' general health and wellbeing;
    Disseminate findings to professionals and administrators within SA Health, and other human services professionals or organisations in South Australia and Australia;
  • Project future health care needs;
  • Set priorities for allocation of resources; and
  • Strengthen the network for surveillance and monitoring of issues relevant to SA Health to improve information gathering and exchange.

SAMSS monitors population trends in state and national risk factors and chronic diseases so that the Department of Health has appropriate, timely and valid population health information to monitor health status, respond to population changes and support planning, implementation, and evaluation of health services and programs.

Trend and time series analyses allows changes over time to be detected.  Dissemination of the trend analysis data to SA Health in a timely, user-friendly, electronic format will be a priority.

For further information please contact Eleonora Dal Grande on:
phone: (08) 8313 1208

return to top

Data collection and questionnaire

Data collection started in July 2002 with approximately 7,200 interviews have been conducted annually in South Australia across all ages.

Most previous SA household surveys have only collected information on people aged 18 years and over. SAMSS, however, collects information on infants and children in the household using an appropriate surrogate process and personally interviews people aged 16 years and over.

On contact, a person is randomly selected within the household by determining who was last to have a birthday. The selected person is interviewed if they are 16 years and over. If the person is less than 16 years, then the interviewer selects the most appropriate adult who can answer the questions on the child's behalf.

The survey is conducted by telephone utilising the CATI (Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing) system. The advantages of CATI surveys are that they are flexible, quick, efficient, relatively cost effective and timely.

SAMSS collects data each month. Collection of information less frequently, for example, once or twice a year, will mean that the monitoring system may not detect changes throughout the year, such as seasonal variables or changes due to intervention initiatives. Approximately 600 interviews are conducted each month with people of all ages.

A copy of the SAMSS questionnaire can be viewed here.
A copy of the children specific questions from SAMSS can be viewed here.
A document listing all variables contained within SAMSS can be viewed here.
A document providing definitions of all derived variables (eg sufficient physical activity; psychological distress etc) can be viewed here.
The rationale document for the inclusion of items in the questionnaire can be viewed here.

return to top


SAMSS is a relatively simple, efficient and timely system. That is, data collection is quick without compromising the quality of the information collection. The system is flexible to accommodate the changing characteristics of the population and needs of health professionals, administrators and policy makers.

SAMSS Technical Paper 1 - Method

return to top

Technical reports

2015 Annual PROS report for the Service Advisory Committee

2014 Annual PROS report for the Service Advisory Committee

2012 Annual PROS report for the Service Advisory Committee

2011 Annual PROS report for the Service Advisory Committee

2002 The South Australian Monitoring and Surveillance System (SAMSS)


A range of reports are published on a regular basis using SAMSS data.

  • Target reports - bi-annual reports presenting current yearly (financial and calendar) estimates for state and national performance benchmarks including fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity and body weight.
  • Trends at a glance (TAG) - bi-annual reports presenting trend analyses for a range of chronic conditions and health-related risk factors.
  • Indicator reports - reports presenting current yearly estimates for various chronic conditions and health-related risk factors.

To view these reports, please click on the link to the SA Health website, here.

return to top

Methodological publications

Dal Grande E, Chittleborough CR, Campostrini S, Tucker G, Taylor AW. Health estimates using survey raked-weighting techniques in an Australian population health surveillance system. Am J Epidemiol. 2015;182(6):544-556.

Dal Grande E, Fullerton S, Taylor AW. Reliability of self-reported health risk factors and chronic conditions questions collected using the telephone in South Australia, Australia. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2012;12(1):108.

Daly A, Parsons J, NW, Gill T, Taylor A. Using risk factor surveillance as a basis for mixed-methodology research: an example from Australia using food intake and anthropometric measures. International Journal of Public Health. 2010; 55:655–660.

Taylor AW, Campostrini S, Gill T, Heriott M, Carter P, Dal Grande E.  The use of chronic disease risk factor surveillance systems for evidence-based decision-making – physical activity and nutrition as examples. International Journal of Public Health. 2010; 55:243-249.

Taylor A, Dal Grande E. Chronic disease and risk factor surveillance using the SA Monitoring and Surveillance System (SAMSS)-history, results and future challenges. Public Health Bulletin. 2008; 3(5); 17-21.

Taylor A. Chronic disease surveillance in South Australia. Public Health Bulletin. 2006; 3:6-9.