4364.0.55.002 - Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, Australia, 2014-15  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/03/2017   
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The definitions used in this survey are not necessarily identical to those used for similar items in other collections.


A person aged 18 years or over.

Alcohol consumption risk level

Alcohol consumption risk levels in this publication have been assessed using the 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines for the consumption of alcohol. See National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15 Explanatory Notes for more information.

Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System

The Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) Classification System is a pharmaceutical coding system which divides drugs into different groups according to the organ or system on which they act and/or their therapeutic and chemical characteristic.

Ancillary cover

Any private health insurance cover for health-related services other than medical (e.g. GP or specialist visits) or hospital cover (e.g. physiotherapy, dental, optical, chiropractic and ambulance).


Arthritis is characterised by an inflammation of the joints often resulting in pain, stiffness, disability or deformity.

Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED)

The Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) is a national standard classification which includes all sectors of the Australian education system: that is, schools, vocational education and training, and higher education. ASCED comprises two classifications: Level of Education and Field of Education. See Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2011 (cat. no. 1272.0).


A chronic disease marked by episodes of wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath associated with widespread narrowing of the airways within the lungs and obstruction of airflow. To be current, symptoms of asthma or treatment for asthma must have occurred in the last 12 months.

Blood pressure

See Diastolic blood pressure, Systolic blood pressure, and Hypertension.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify underweight, normal weight, overweight and obesity. It is calculated from height and weight information, using the formula weight (kg) divided by the square of height (m). To produce a measure of the prevalence of underweight, normal weight, overweight or obesity in adults, BMI values are grouped which allows categories to be reported against both the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines. For more information see National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15 Explanatory Notes.

Cancer (malignant neoplasms)

Cancer is a condition in which the body's cells grow and spread in an uncontrolled manner. A cancerous cell can arise from almost any cell, and therefore cancer can be found almost anywhere in the body.


A person aged 0-17 years.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a serious long-term lung disease, is the occurrence of chronic bronchitis or emphysema, a pair of commonly co-existing diseases of the lungs in which airways become narrowed. It mainly affects older people and is often difficult to distinguish from asthma.


See long-term medical condition.

Current daily smoker

A current daily smoker is a respondent who reported at the time of interview that they regularly smoked one or more cigarettes, cigars or pipes per day. See also Smoker status.

Day clinic

A facility where a medical procedure is performed and patients are discharged on the same day.

Days away from work or study

Refers to days on which the respondent was away from work, school or other educational institution for at least half the day.

Diabetes mellitus

A chronic condition in which blood glucose levels become too high due to the body producing little or no insulin, or not using insulin properly.

Diastolic blood pressure

Measures the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes before the next beat. It is the lower number of the blood pressure reading.

Diseases of the circulatory system

In this publication, data on diseases of the circulatory system refers to persons who reported having been told by a doctor or nurse that they had any of a range of circulatory conditions comprising:

  • Ischaemic heart diseases (angina, heart attack and other ischaemic heart diseases);
  • Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases);
  • Oedema;
  • Heart failure;
  • Diseases of the arteries, arterioles and capillaries;
  • Hypertension;
  • Tachycardia; and
  • other diseases of the circulatory system.

and that their condition was current and long-term; that is, their condition was current at the time of interview and had lasted, or was expected to last, 6 months or more.

Persons who reported having ischaemic heart diseases and cerebrovascular diseases that were not current and long-term at the time of interview are also included, for the first time. Estimates of heart, stroke and vascular disease for 2011-12 and 2014-15 in this publication are presented using this definition.

Disability status

A disability or restrictive long-term health condition exists if a limitation, restriction, impairment, disease or disorder, has lasted, or is expected to last for six months or more, and restricts everyday activities.

It is classified by whether or not a person has a specific limitation or restriction. Specific limitation or restriction is further classified by whether the limitation or restriction is a limitation in core activities or a schooling/employment restriction only.

There are four levels of core activity limitation (profound, severe, moderate and mild) which are based on whether a person needs help, has difficulty, or uses aids or equipment with any of the core activities (self care, mobility or communication). A person's overall level of core activity limitation is determined by their highest level of limitation in these activities.


Persons aged 15 years and over who had a job or business, or who undertook work without pay in a family business for a minimum of one hour per week. Includes persons who were absent from a job or business. See also Unemployed and Not in the labour force.

Exercise level

Based on frequency, intensity (that is, walking, moderate exercise or vigorous exercise) and duration of exercise (for fitness, recreation or sport) in the one week prior to interview. From these, an exercise score was derived using factors to represent the intensity of the exercise.

HbA1c test

The HbA1c test provides an indication of the presence and management of diabetes. Also referred to as glycated haemoglobin, it measures the amount of glucose in the blood that binds to the haemoglobin present in red blood cells. If glucose amounts are below 7% and stable then tests should be performed every 6 months; if they are higher than that then tests should be performed every 3 months.

Health risk factors

Specific lifestyle and related factors impacting on health, including:
  • Tobacco smoking;
  • Alcohol consumption;
  • Exercise;
  • Body Mass Index;
  • Dietary behaviour; and
  • Blood pressure.

High blood pressure

See Hypertension.

Hospital cover

Health insurance provided by a private insurance organisation to cover all or part of the costs of private accommodation in a public hospital, charges for private hospital treatment and care in a public hospital by a doctor of the patient's choice.


Hypertension (commonly known as high blood pressure) is a condition in which blood pressure in the arteries is elevated, requiring the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood throughout the body. Hypertension is a major risk factor for hypertensive heart disease, strokes, myocardial infarction (heart attacks) and chronic kidney disease as well as several other medical conditions.

Information on hypertension/high blood pressure was collected in the National Health Survey using two methods. These were:
  • a question on whether respondents had ever been told by a doctor or nurse they had any circulatory conditions (including hypertension or high blood pressure), and
  • for adults aged 18 years and over, the taking of blood pressure measurements. A person was defined as having high blood pressure if their systolic/diastolic blood pressure was equal to or greater than 140/90 mmHg. Numbers of people with measured high blood pressure do not include people who have high blood pressure but are managing their condition through the use of blood pressure medications.

Tables in previous NHS publications prior to 2014-15 referred to hypertension as 'hypertensive disease'.

Inadequate fruit or vegetable Intake

This refers to inadequate fruit or vegetable dietary intake as reported by the respondent, based on the NHMRC Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults and Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia.

Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage

This is one of four Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) compiled by ABS following each Census of Population and Housing. The indexes are compiled from various characteristics of persons resident in particular areas: the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage summarises attributes such as low income, low educational attainment, high unemployment and jobs in relatively unskilled occupations. A lower Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage quintile (e.g. the first quintile) indicates relatively greater disadvantage and a lack of advantage in general. A higher Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage (e.g. the fifth quintile) indicates a relative lack of disadvantage and greater advantage in general. For further information about SEIFA see the Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13 (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001).


A person who is admitted to the hospital and stays overnight or for an indeterminate time in the course of treatment, examination or observation.

Ischaemic heart disease

A disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle.

Kidney disease

A subset of symptoms including:
  • problems or complaints about kidneys;
  • renal pain; and,
  • renal colic (kidney stones).

Long-term medical condition (or Long-term health condition)

A medical condition (illness, injury or disability) which has lasted at least six months, or which the respondent expects to last for six months or more. Some reported conditions were assumed to be long-term, including asthma, arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, heart attack, angina, heart failure and stroke. Rheumatic heart disease, heart attack, angina, heart failure and stroke were also assumed to be current.

Mental and behavioural conditions

Includes organic mental problems, alcohol and drug problems, mood (affective) disorders such as depression, anxiety related problems and other mental and behavioural problems.

Moderate exercise

Exercise for fitness, recreation, or sport which caused a moderate increase in heart rate or breathing.


A neoplasm is a new growth of abnormal tissue (a tumour). Tumours can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancer). Cancer refers to several diseases and can affect most types of cells in various parts of the body.

Not in the labour force

Persons who are not employed or unemployed as defined, including persons who:
  • are retired;
  • no longer work;
  • do not intend to work in the future;
  • are permanently unable to work; or
  • have never worked and never intend to work.


A condition that thins and weakens bone mineral density, generally caused by loss of calcium, which leads to increased risk of fracture. Data was collected from persons aged 15 years and over plus younger respondents who reported having gout, rheumatism or arthritis.

Other health professionals

Includes (unless specified otherwise):
  • Aboriginal Health Worker;
  • Accredited counsellor;
  • Acupuncturist;
  • Audiologist/audiometrist;
  • Chemist (advice only);
  • Chiropodist/podiatrist;
  • Chiropractor;
  • Diabetes educator;
  • Dietitian/nutritionist;
  • Herbalist;
  • Hypnotherapist;
  • Naturopath;
  • Nurse;
  • Occupational therapist;
  • Optician/optometrist;
  • Orthotist/Prosthetists;
  • Osteopath;
  • Physiotherapist/hydrotherapist;
  • Psychologist;
  • Radiographer;
  • Social worker/welfare officer;
  • Sonographer;
  • Speech therapist/pathologist; and
  • Other.

Orthotist/Prosthetists, Radiographer and Songorapher were additional categories added to the 2014-15 National Health Survey.


A patient who is hospitalised for less than 24 hours but who visits a hospital, clinic or associated facility for diagnosis or treatment.

Private health insurance

Refers to the private health insurance status at the time of the survey of persons aged 15 years and over. The category 'With cover' includes those with hospital and/or ancillary cover, and those with cover but the type of cover was unknown.

Psychological distress

Derived from the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). This is a scale of non-specific psychological distress based on 10 questions about negative emotional states in the past 30 days. The K10 is scored from 10 to 50, with higher scores indicating a higher level of distress; low scores indicate a low level of distress. In this publication, scores are grouped as follows:
  • Low levels of distress (10-15);
  • Moderate levels of distress (16-21);
  • High levels of distress (22-29); and
  • Very high levels of distress (30-50).

Data was collected from respondents aged 18 years and over.

Smoker status

The extent to which a respondent was smoking at the time of interview, and refers to regular smoking of tobacco, including manufactured (packet) cigarettes, roll-your-own cigarettes, cigars and pipes, but excludes chewing tobacco and smoking of non-tobacco products. Categorised as:
  • Current daily smoker - a respondent who reported at the time of interview that they regularly smoked one or more cigarettes, cigars or pipes per day;
  • Current smoker - Other - a respondent who reported at the time of interview that they smoked cigarettes, cigars or pipes, less frequently than daily;
  • Ex-smoker - a respondent who reported that they did not currently smoke, but had regularly smoked daily, or had smoked at least 100 cigarettes, or smoked pipes, cigars, etc at least 20 times in their lifetime; and
  • Never smoked - a respondent who reported they had never regularly smoked daily, and had smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and had smoked pipes, cigars, etc less than 20 times.

Data was collected from respondents aged 15 years and over.

Systolic blood pressure

Measures the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps blood during each beat. It is the higher number of the blood pressure reading.

Type of conditions

All reported long-term medical conditions were coded to a classification developed by the ABS for use in the 2001 National Health Survey, which is based on the tenth revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Health Related Problems (ICD-10).

Type of medication

Obtained for medication reported as used in the two weeks prior to interview for any medical condition. Included are vitamins and minerals, natural and herbal medication and pharmaceutical medication. Pharmaceutical medications are classified by generic type, based on reported medication name. The generic drug name is the non-proprietary name for the active chemicals in a medicine, in contrast to the proprietary name (trade or brand name) for a medicine.

Type of medication used for mental health and well-being

Refers to the type of medication reported as used for mental health or well-being in the 2 weeks prior to interview. May include medications used for preventive health purposes as well as medications used for mental disorders, and includes vitamins and minerals, natural and herbal medications and pharmaceutical medications. Two items relating to type of medication are available for those with a mental health condition and for everyone aged 18 years and over related to psychological distress:
  • Type of medication as reported by respondent; e.g. sleeping tablet, antidepressant; and
  • Generic type of medication: e.g. citalopram.


Persons aged 15 years and over who were not employed and actively looking for work in the four weeks prior to the survey, and were available to start work in the week prior to the survey.

Vigorous exercise

Exercise for fitness, recreation or sport which caused a large increase in heart rate or breathing.