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8689.0 - Private Medical Practitioners, Australia, 2002  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/10/2002   
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  • Explanatory Notes

INTRODUCTION

1 This publication contains data derived from a survey of medical practitioners conducted in 2002.


SCOPE

2 The information presented in this publication relate to all medical practitioners who:

  • provided at least one Medicare claimable service between 1 April 2001 and 30 September 2001;
  • operated in a private medical practice in Australia for at least 3 months of the 2001-2002 financial year; and
  • spent at least 50% of their working hours on private patient activities in an average working week.

3 Medical practitioners who did not spend at least 50% of their working hours on private patient activities in an average working week, for example those working primarily in hospitals and other institutions such as universities and government departments, were excluded, as were any medical practitioners who commenced operating on or after 1 October 2001.

4 It should be noted that there are some differences in scope and coverage between the 1994-95 and 2002 ABS surveys on private medical practitioners. As such, users making comparisons of these data, should do so with care. See Comparisons with other ABS data for more detail (paragraphs 16 and 17 of the Explanatory Notes).


COVERAGE

5 The frame used for the Medical Practitioners Survey was taken from the Health Insurance Commission's Medicare Provider File. The information provided by the Commission was in accordance with the secrecy provision under Section 130 of the Health Insurance Act.


STATISTICAL UNIT

6 The unit for which statistics were reported in the survey was the individual medical practitioner.


GEOGRAPHIC CLASSIFICATION

7 The Rural, Remote and Metropolitan Areas (RRMA) Classification has been used to classify the geographical location of medical practitioners according to their main private practice address. The RRMA classification was originally developed in 1994 by the former departments of Primary Industry & Energy and Human Services & Health. The original RRMA classification assigned locations to seven categories according to geographic boundaries based on the 1991 population census. An updated version of the RRMA classification (obtained from the Department of Health and Aged Care) is based on 1996 postcodes and has been used to produce estimates for the Medical Practitioners Survey. For the purposes of this publication the RRMA categories 1-3, 4-5 and 6-7 have been collapsed to form 'Metropolitan', 'Rural' and 'Remote' categories respectively.

8 The seven classes of geographic location are listed below.
  • Capital cities consist of the State and Territory capital cities (1).
  • Other metropolitan centres consist of one or more statistical subdivisions that have an urban centre of population of 100,000 or more (2).
  • Large rural centres are statistical local areas where most of the population reside in urban centres of population of 25,000 to 99,999 (3).
  • Small rural centres are statistical local areas in rural zones containing urban centres of population between 10,000 and 24,999 (4).
  • Other rural areas are the remaining statistical areas within the rural zone (5).
  • Remote centres are statistical local areas in the remote zone containing urban centres of population of 5,000 or more (6).
  • Other remote areas are the remaining areas within the remote zone (7).


RELIABILITY OF DATA

9 The estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling error.

10 The estimates in this publication are based on information obtained from a sample of medical practitioners in the target population. Consequently, the estimates in this publication are subject to sampling variability, that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been obtained if all medical practitioners had been included in the survey. One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error, which indicates the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because only a sample of practitioners were included.

11 There are about 2 chances in 3 that a sample estimate will differ by less than one standard error from the figure that would have been obtained if a census had been conducted, and approximately 19 chances in 20 that the difference will be less than two standard errors.

12 The following table contains estimates of relative standard errors for the statistics presented in table 1.1


Relative standard errors for Table 1.1, Summary of Findings

%

General practitioners
Males
2
Females
4
Total
1
Specialists
Males
2
Females
9
Total
2
Total
Males
2
Females
4
Total
1
Average hours worked per week
General practitioners
1
Specialists
1
Total
1
Average private patient contacts per week
General practitioners
2
Specialists
3
Total
1

Copyright Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2002


13 As an example of the above, an estimate of the total number of private practice general practitioners is 18,867 and the relative standard error is 1% giving a standard error of 189. Therefore, there would be 2 chances in 3 that, if all units had been included in the survey a figure in the range of 18,678 and 19,056 general practitioners would have been obtained, and 19 chances in 20 (that is, a confidence interval of 95%) that the figure would have been within the range of 18,489 and 19,245 general practitioners.

14 Errors other than those due to sampling may occur because of deficiencies in the register of units from which the sample was selected, non-response, and imperfections in reporting by respondents. Inaccuracies of this kind are referred to as non-sampling errors and they may occur in any collection, whether it be a census or a sample. Every effort has been made to reduce non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design and testing of questionnaires, efficient operating procedures and systems, and appropriate methodology.


RELEASE OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

15 A selected range of additional data including data by broad Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) classification is available on request. For more information please contact the National Information Service on 1300 135 070 or Bruce Fraser on Melbourne 03 9615 7471.


COMPARISONS WITH OTHER ABS DATA

16 The 1994-95 Medical Practitioners Survey excluded low activity medical practitioners from the published estimates (that is, those with less than 50 Medicare claimable services in the six month period November 1994 to April 1995). Estimates produced from the 1994-95 survey reported 3,091 low activity general practitioners and 1,513 low activity specialists. These low activity medical practitioners accounted for 5% of the private medical practice consultations made in an average working week.

17 In contrast to the 1994-95 survey, the 2002 Medical Practitioners survey did not exclude low activity medical practitioners. Estimates produced in this publication will therefore differ from those in the 1994-95 survey publication according to this difference in scope. As such, users making comparisons of these data, should do so with care.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT

18 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

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