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Population Research and Outcome Studies
Level 7
North Terrace
SA 5000

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


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ABS:  Australian Bureau of Statistics

ADEA:  Australian Diabetes Education Association

ADEPD:  Assessment of the Determinants and Epidemiology of Psychological Distress

Advocacy:  The process of supporting and enabling people to express their views and concerns; access information and services; defend and promote their rights; and, explore choices and options.

ADS:  Australian Diabetes Society

AIHW:  Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Arthritis:  A term that is used to describe a disorder of one or more joints. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis, affecting the cartilage in the joints.  Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis that is characterised by joint swelling and destruction.

Asthma:  A chronic disease causing episodes of wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath due to widespread narrowing of the airways within the lungs and obstruction to airflow.  The symptoms of asthma are variable and usually reversible, either spontaneously or with treatment.

ATSI:  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

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Baby Boomer:  A person born during the post-war baby boom. A baby Boom is a temporary marked increase in the birth-rate.

Best Practice:  Producing the highest quality service, treatment, etc based on the best evidence currently available. The sharing of information between individuals and organisations is key to best practice.

BMI:  Body Mass Index is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. It provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. It is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in metres. It can indicate both underweight and overweight. A BMI of over 25 is considered overweight.Human bodies rank along the index from around 15 (near starvation) to over 40 (morbidly obese).

Brief Report:  A short formal statement of the results of an investigation.

BOD:  Burden of Disease is population data, which combines mortality and morbidity data, in order to measure all the damage to a population’s well-being that results from disease.

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CAG:  Children’s Advisory Group – looking at SAMMS Data as part of PROS

Capacity Building:  An approach to development that builds independence. Capacity building increases the range of people, organisations and communities who are able to address problems, and in particular, problems that arise out of social inequity and social exclusion. It is used to support the process of helping local groups to take part in the social and economic regeneration of their area by encouraging and developing people’s skills and confidence, building up an infrastructure by setting up and strengthening networks, and improving organisation and procedures.

Case-control study:  A type of observational analytic study. Enrolment into the study is based on presence (‘case’) or absence (‘control’) of disease. Characteristics such as previous exposure are then compared between cases and controls.

CATI:  Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing.  CATI best practice- 39 steps guidelines, Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing national best practice guidelines. CATI surveys are flexible, quick, efficient, relatively cost effective and timely.

CCC:  Three CCCs safety and quality guidelines- Correct patient, Correct site, Correct operation

CDC:  Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Chronic disease:  Chronic diseases are those involving a long course in their development or their symptoms. They are a major health problem in all developed countries, accounting for a high proportion of deaths, disability and illness. Yet many of these diseases are preventable, or their onset can be delayed, by relatively simple measures.  Also called non-communicable disease.

Clusters:  A collection of things of the same kind, to congregate group; to assemble, collect closely. Disease Clusters help determine service provision and identify particular areas that must be targeted.

Cohort:  A group of people who share a common characteristic or experience within a defined time period.

Cohort study A type of observational analytic study. Enrolment into the study is based on exposure characteristics or membership in a group. Disease, death, or other health-related outcomes are then ascertained and compared.

Co-morbidity:  The coexistence of two or more disease processes.

Confidence interval:  A range determined by variability in data, within which there is a specified (usually 95%) chance that a calculated parameter (e.g. prevalence) is thought to lie.

COPD:  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a serious, long-term respiratory condition that mainly affects older people who have been exposed to tobacco smoke.

CVD Cardio Vascular Disease is a general diagnostic category consisting of several separate diseases of the heart and circulatory system.

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DAG:  Data Advisory Group for SAPHIRe

DALY:  Unit of health care status that adjusts age-specific life expectancy by the loss of health and years of life due to disability from disease or injury. DALYs are often used to measure the global burden of disease.

Demography:  The study of populations, particularly size, density, fertility, mortality, growth, age, distribution and migration.

Determinants of health:  The wide range of personal, social, economic and environmental factors which determine the health status of people or communities. They include health behaviours and lifestyles, income, education, employment, working conditions, access to health services, housing and living conditions and the wider general environment.

Diabetes:  A condition that occurs when the body does not produce or properly use insulin, and causes glucose (sugar) to build up in the blood. When the insulin is not produced or used effectively by the body, glucose can’t be converted into energy that the body can use.  This means that the glucose stays in the blood, resulting in high blood glucose, which commonly leads to health problems.

DIABInfo:  A periodical publication of the Diabetes Clearing House on research and information about diabetes issues.  See DIABInfo newsletter.

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Epidemic:  The occurrence of more cases of disease than expected in a given area or among a specific group of people over a particular period of time.

Epidemiology:  Epidemiology is the primary science of public health.  It is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in human populations and the application of this study to the control of health problems.  The derivation of the word 'epidemiology' is Greek: epi (upon); demos (the people); logos (to study).

Where health care practitioners collect data on an individual patient by taking a medical history and conducting a physical exam, epidemiologists collect data about an entire population through surveillance systems, population surveys, or descriptive epidemiological studies.  The health care practitioner uses their data to make a diagnosis; the epidemiologist’s data is used to generate hypotheses about the relationships between exposure and disease. Both disciplines then test the hypotheses, the practitioner by conducting additional diagnostic tests, the epidemiologist by conducting analytical studies such as cohort or case-control studies.  The final step is to take action.  The practitioner prescribes medical treatment, and the epidemiologist, some form of community intervention to end the health problem and prevent its recurrence.

Equity in health:  Equity means fairness.  Equity in health means that people’s needs guide the distribution of opportunities for well-being.

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Health:  Health is defined as "a dynamic state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." [World Health Organization]

Health status:  A description or measurement of the health of an individual or population at a particular point in time against identifiable standards, usually by reference to health indicators.

HM:  Health Monitor

HOS:  Health Omnibus Survey

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Monitoring:  To check, supervise, observe critically, or record the progress of an activity, action or system on a regular basis in order to identify and/or track change.

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NOBLE:  Nutrition Obesity Lifestyle and Environment Studies

NWAHS:  North West Adelaide Health Study

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Patient Satisfaction:  A system to monitor, analyse, benchmark, and respond to patients’ perceptions of health service delivery, to improve patient outcomes.

PROS:  Population Research and Outcome Studies

Prevalence:  The number or proportion of cases or events or conditions in a given population.

Prevention:  Primary prevention aims to prevent the initial occurrence of an illness.

Secondary prevention aims to stop or slow an existing illness by early detection and appropriate treatment.  Secondary prevention refers to activities that are aimed at: early detection of disease and prompt treatment to cure disease during its earliest stages or slowing its progression, preventing complications and limiting disability when cure is not possible. 

Tertiary prevention aims to reduce the re-occurrence and establishment of chronic illness.

Public Health:  Public health is “a combination of science, practical skills, and beliefs that is directed to the maintenance and improvement of the health of all people.  It is one of the efforts organised by society to protect, promote and restore the people’s health through collective or social actions.” [Public Health Association of Australia, 1998].

Public health practice informs and empowers individuals and communities, and creates healthy environments through the use of evidence-based strategies, best practice and quality improvement approaches, and effective governance and accountability mechanisms.

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Risk factor:  An aspect of personal behaviour, lifestyle, a social, economic, or environmental exposure, or an inborn or inherited characteristic that is associated with an increased occurrence of disease or other health-related event or condition.

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Sample:  A selected subset of a population. A sample may be random or non-random and it may be representative or non-representative.

SAMSS:  South Australian Monitoring and Surveillance System

Social capital:  Social capital represents the degree of social cohesion which exists in communities.  It refers to the processes between people which establish networks, norms, and social trust, and facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit.

Surveillance:  Surveillance is the ongoing systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of outcome-specific data, closely integrated with the timely dissemination of these data to those responsible for preventing and controlling disease.  Surveillance is based on a public health agenda, as opposed to a research agenda, to help ensure that the data collected are timely and directly responsive to the health needs of a the population.  As a seismograph is always on to measure earthquakes, a surveillance system is continuously monitoring the health of the population.

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