4363.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2001  
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Contents >> Appendix 1 - Glossary of terms used

This document presents definitions for some of the terms used in this Guide and elsewhere in relation to the 2001 NHS. Further definitions are contained in the individual topic descriptions. It should be noted that the definitions used in this survey are not necessarily identical with those used for concepts or data items in other collections, and care should be taken when comparing data from different sources to ensure they are similarly defined.

Actions taken

Refers to one or more of the following 'health related' actions taken, in relation to the respondent's own health, in the 2 weeks prior to interview:

  • Discharge from a stay in hospital as an admitted patient
  • Visit to casualty/emergency department at hospital
  • Visit to outpatients department at hospital
  • Visit to day clinic
  • Consultation with general practitioner (GP) or specialist
  • Dental consultation
  • Consultation with other health professional (OHP): see below
  • Days away from work or school/study (due to own illness or injury)
  • Other days of reduced activity (days other than days away from work or school/study) due to own illness or injury.
    Points to note:
    • Use of medications has been included in 'actions' data from previous surveys but is excluded from 'actions' data in 2001 because coverage of medication use is incomplete in the 2001 survey.
    • Days away from work or school to care for another are excluded from 'actions' data .

    Age standardisation

    To allow for the comparison of populations with different age (and/or sex) structures, some published estimates from both the NHS and NHS(I) are age (and sex) standardised to the age (and sex) composition of the total estimated resident population of Australia as at 30 June 2001. The age standardised rate is that which would have prevailed if the studied population had the standard age composition. For more details, refer to Chapter 7 'Data Quality and Interpretation of Results' of this Guide.

    Alcohol risk level

    Adults were classified by 'alcohol risk level' based on their estimated average daily alcohol consumption in the 7 days prior to interview. Average daily consumption in the previous 7 days was estimated using two components:
    • the number of days on which the respondent reported consuming alcohol in the previous week
    • the quantity consumed on the three most recent days on which they consumed alcohol in that week. For people who drank on no more than 3 days in the last week, their daily average was simply the total consumed divided by 7.

    Risk levels are based on the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), 2001, Australian Alcohol Guidelines: Health Risks and Benefits (www.nhmrc.gov.au) risk levels for harm in the long term, and assumes the level of alcohol consumption recorded for the survey period is typical. The average daily consumption of alcohol associated with the risk levels is as follows:


    Risk levelMalesFemales

    Low risk50 mls or less25 mls or less
    RiskyMore than 50 mls, up to
    75 mls
    More than 25 mls, up to
    50 mls
    High riskMore than 75 mlsMore than 50 mls

    Drinking status information was also collected for those who did not consume any alcohol in the 7 days prior to interview:
    • Last consumed more than one week to less than 12 months ago
    • Last consumed 2 months or more ago
    • Never consumed.

    Ancillary cover

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

    ASGC Remoteness Structure

    The Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) Remoteness Structure has 5 categories based on an aggregation of geographical areas which share common characteristics of remoteness, determined in the context of Australia as a whole. These categories are: Major cities of Australia, Inner regional Australia, Outer regional Australia, Remote Australia and Very remote Australia.

    The delimitation criteria for these categories are based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) developed by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing and the National Key Centre for Social Applications of GIS (GISCA). ARIA measures the remoteness of a point based on the physical road distance to the nearest Urban Centre.

    The five categories are generally aggregated in some way for use in output. For the purposes of the Indigenous component of the NHS the categories are aggregated into two groups - Remote and Non-remote -
    For more information on the ASGC, see Statistical Geography Volume 1, Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2001 (cat. no. 1216.0).

    Body Mass Index (BMI)

    Calculated from self-reported height and weight information, using the formula weight (kg) divided by the square of height (m).
    To produce a measure of the prevalence of overweight or obesity in adults, BMI values are grouped according to the table below which allows categories to be reported against both WHO and NHMRC guidelines.

                BMI score

                UnderweightLess than 18.5
                Normal range18.5 to less than 20.0
                20.0 to less than 25.0
                Overweight25.0 to less than 30.0
                Obese30.0 and greater

    Breastfeeding status

    Based on the reported period that a baby was breastfed, and the ages at which other foods were introduced into the regular diet, breastfeeding status refers to the level of breastfeeding at a given age:
      • Fully breastfed: receiving only breastmilk on a regular basis
      • Partially breastfed: breastfed and receiving solids on a regular basis (with or without other breastmilk substitutes)
      • Complementary breastfeeding: breastfed and receiving breastmilk substitutes (but not solids) on a regular basis
      • Not breastfed.


      See Neoplasms.

      Cardiovascular conditions

      See Circulatory problems/diseases.

      Circulatory problems/diseases

      Covers all diseases and related problems of the circulatory system. Includes specific conditions such as hypertension, angina, tachycardia, oedema, haemorrhoids, varicose veins and cardiac murmurs.


      See Type of conditions.

      Days away

      Refers to days on which the respondent was away from work, school or other educational institution (as appropriate) for at least half the day. Absences included days away due to a respondent's own illness or injury, or to care for another person with an illness or injury. Employed persons away from both work and school/study have been included under days away from work only.

      Days out of role

      Days away from work or school/study, and other days of reduced activity due to own illness or injury.


      Includes dentist, orthodontist, dental nurse, dental technician and dental mechanic.


      Includes diabetes mellitus (types 1 and 2), gestational diabetes and diabetes for which the type was unknown by the respondent.

      Dietary habits

      See 'Usual daily serves of fruit' and 'Usual daily serves of vegetables'.

      Ear/hearing problems

      Covers all diseases of the ear and mastoid. Includes specific conditions such as deafness (total and partial), otitis media and Meniere's disease.


      People who reported that they had worked in a job, business or farm during the reference week (the full week prior to the date of interview); or that they had a job in the reference week but were not at work.

      Exercise level

      Based on frequency, intensity (i.e. walking, moderate exercise and vigorous exercise) and duration of exercise (for recreation, sport or fitness) in the 2 weeks prior to interview. From these components, an exercise score was derived using factors to represent the intensity of the exercise. Scores were grouped for output as follows:

      Exercise level

      LevelScore range/criteria

      SedentaryLess than 100 (includes no exercise);
      Low100 to less than 1600;
      Moderate1600-3200, or more than 3200 but less than 2 hours of vigorous exercise
      HighMore than 3200 and 2 hours or more of vigorous exercise.

        Eye/sight problems

        Covers all diseases of the eye and adnexa. Includes specific conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, astigmatism, presbyopia (vision impairment due to ageing), myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness), blindness (total or partial) and other loss of vision.

        Folate (intake of)

        Refers to the deliberate intake of folate fortified foods or supplements. Data from this survey do not provide a measure of the extent to which women of child-bearing age consume folate.


        See Usual daily serves of fruit.

        Government health concession cards

        Includes Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and treatment entitlement cards issued by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

        Health transition

        Self assessed change in overall health relative to 12 months prior to interview.

        Hearing problems

        See Ear/hearing problems.

        Herbal and natural medications

        Herbal and natural medications as reported by respondents. The data covers only herbal and natural medications used in the previous 2 weeks for asthma, cancer, heart and circulatory conditions, diabetes or mental well-being. Information on the types of herbal and natural medications used was not collected in this survey.

        Highest educational qualification

        The level of the highest educational qualification obtained since leaving school.

        Hospital cover

        Health insurance provided by private insurance organisations 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.


        An arterial disease of which the elevation of blood pressure is the outstanding sign.

        ICD9 /ICD10

        International Classification of Diseases: 9th revision (ICD9) and 10th Revision (ICD10). In the 2001 NHS and NHS(I), classifications developed by ABS but based on ICD9 and ICD10 are used in survey output. The ICD9 based classification is primarily for the purposes of comparing conditions data from the 2001 survey with data from previous NHSs. See Appendix 3 and Appendix 4 of this publication.


        International Classification of Primary Care. In the 2001 NHS and NHS(I), a classification based on ICPC but developed for this survey is available for use in survey output. A copy of this classification is contained in Appendix 5 of this publication.

        Immunisation status (children)

        Immunisation status is defined as the degree to which the recommended course of vaccinations for a particular disease has been received (as appropriate to the age of the child). The NHMRC Standard Childhood Vaccination Schedules were used to derive immunisation status of children. Immunisation status is categorised as:
        • Fully immunised
        • Partially immunised
        • Not immunised
        • Not known if fully or partially immunised
        • Not known if immunised.


        Incidence refers to the number of new cases of a particular characteristic, such as cancer, which occur within a certain period. This differs from prevalence, which refers to the number of cases of a particular characteristic that are present in a population at one point in time. Incidence and prevalence can also be presented as proportions of the population of interest.


        Refers to people who identified themselves, or were identified by another household member, as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in response to the following question:

        Is anyone who usually lives here of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?
        (For persons of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, mark both 'Yes' boxes.)
        No image: check box
        Yes, Aboriginal image: check box
        Yes, Torres Strait Islander image: check box

        Income of income unit

        An income unit may comprise one person or group of related persons (de facto or registered marriage or parent/dependent child relationship) within a household whose command over income is assumed to be shared. An income unit may therefore include the partner (for couples), all children aged less than 15 years, and children aged 15-24 years provided they are unmarried, full-time students and do not have dependents of their own. In this survey, income unit income is the sum of the respondent's cash income and the cash income of their spouse/partner (where applicable). The income of any children within the units is not included.

        Injury event

        An injury event is an event meeting the following criteria:
        • the event was an accident, harmful incident, exposure to harmful factors or other incident
        • which occurred in the 4 weeks prior to interview
        • which resulted in an injury
        • which resulted in one or more of the following actions being taken: consulting a health professional, seeking medical advice, receiving medical treatment, reducing usual activities, other treatment of injury such as taking medications, or using a bandage or band aid or heat or ice pack, and
        • for which the respondent could identify the type of injury and its bodily location.

          In the labour force

          People who, during the reference week, were employed or unemployed, as defined (See also Labour force status).

          Kessler 10 (K10)

          See Psychological distress.

          Labour force status

          Refers to the employment situation of respondents at the time of the survey. Categories are:
          • Employed (aged 15 years and over and had a job in the week prior to the survey),
          • Unemployed (aged 15 years and over, were not employed and actively looked for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey)
          • Not in the labour force (all children less than 15 years, and persons 15 years and over who were neither employed or unemployed).

          Long term condition

          A condition which was current at the time of the survey and which, in the respondent's opinion, had lasted for 6 months or more, or which he or she expected will last for 6 months or more. Some conditions reported were assumed to be long term conditions: these included asthma, cancer, diabetes insipidus, diabetes mellitus types 1 and 2, rheumatic heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

          Main language spoken at home other than English

          Obtained for adults only and refers to whether a language other than English is spoken at home, solely or in conjunction with English and/or languages other than English.


          METS or intensity values are a measure of the energy expenditure required to carry out exercise, expressed as a multiple of the resting metabolic rate and operate as a factor when determining exercise level. For example, the 1995 NHS used intensity values of 3.5 for walking, 5.0 for moderate exercise and 9.0 for vigorous exercise.

          National Health Priority Areas (NHPA)

          Included cancer, diabetes/high sugar levels, heart and circulatory conditions, injuries, mental health and asthma in 2001. The area covering arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases has been added in 2002.


          Includes malignant neoplasms, benign neoplasms and neoplasms of uncertain nature. Diseases coded under this classification include skin cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and other cancers.


          See Remote.

          Non-sparsely settled areas

          See Sparsely settled areas

          Other days of reduced activity

          Days other than days away from work or from school/study on which a person had cut down on their usual activities for at least half the day, as a result of personal injury or illness.

          Other health professional (OHP)

          As defined for this survey, OHPs included the following:
          • Aboriginal health worker (not elsewhere classified)
          • Accredited counsellor
          • Acupuncturist
          • Alcohol and drug worker (not elsewhere classified)
          • Audiologist/Audiometrist
          • Chemist (for advice)
          • Chiropodist/podiatrist
          • Chiropractor
          • Dietitian/Nutritionist
          • Herbalist
          • Hypnotherapist
          • Naturopath
          • Nurse
          • Occupational therapist
          • Optician/optometrist
          • Osteopath
          • Physiotherapist/hydrotherapist
          • Psychologist
          • Social worker/welfare officer
          • Speech therapist/pathologist.

          Pharmaceutical medications

          Any medication used in the 2 weeks prior to interview for asthma, cancer, heart and circulatory conditions or diabetes/high sugar levels, excluding medications identified by respondents as vitamins or minerals, or natural or herbal medications. See also type of medication below.


          The number of cases of a particular characteristic (e.g. a specific long term condition such as cancer) that are present in a population at one point in time. This differs from incidence, which refers to the number of new cases of a particular characteristic, such as cancer, which occur within a certain period. Prevalence and incidence can also be presented as proportions of the population of interest.

          Psychological distress

          Derived from the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale 10 items (K10). This is a scale of non-specific psychological distress based on 10 questions about negative emotional states in the 4 weeks prior to interview. 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 (10 - 15)
          • Moderate (16 - 21)
          • High (22 - 29)
          • Very high (30 - 50).


          The term 'Remote' is used to cover areas that lie within either the 'Very Remote Australia' or 'Remote Australia' categories of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) Remoteness Structure. Non-Remote areas are those that lie within the 'Major Cities of Australia', the 'Inner Regional Australia' and the 'Outer Regional Australia' categories. The terms 'Remote' and 'Non-remote' are used to describe issues relating to output, while the terms 'Sparsely settled areas' and 'Non-sparsely settled areas' are used when discussing collection issues. See Chapter 1 of this Users' Guide for a detailed explanation.

          Risky/high risk alcohol consumption

          Is a combination of Moderate (or 'Risky') and High risk alcohol consumption levels. See Alcohol risk level.

          Role limitation

          In context of mental well-being, role limitation refers to having accomplished less than desired, or having worked or performed other regular daily activities less carefully than usual, because of emotional problems. In the 2001 NHS this information was obtained from two questions on role limitations from the mental health dimension of the SF12, which referred to limitations in the four weeks prior to interview.


          Five Indexes compiled by the ABS following each population Census. Each index summarises different aspects of the socioeconomic condition of areas. The Index of Relative Socioeconomic Disadvantage is the SEIFA index most frequently used in health analysis. The particular attributes summarised by this index include low income, low educational attainment, high unemployment and jobs in relatively unskilled occupations.

          Most commonly, SEIFAs are used to group survey respondents into quintiles or deciles of a particular index. Comparisons can then be made between respondents living in areas based on SEIFA quintiles (or deciles) across a range of health-related characteristics such as self-assessed health status.

          The Indexes are compiled at the level of the Census Collector's District (CD) in which a person lives. The indexes currently available are those compiled following the 1996 Census. For further information about the SEIFAs see Information Paper; 1996 Census of Population and Housing: Socioeconomic Indexes for Areas (cat. no. 2039.0).

          For more information on SEIFAs refer to Chapter 6.

          Self assessed body mass

          Respondent's reported assessment of himself/herself as being of acceptable weight, underweight or overweight.

          Self assessed health status

          Refers to respondent's general assessment of own health, against a 5 point scale from excellent through to poor.

          Sight problems

          See Eye/sight problems.

          Smoker status

          Refers to the smoking status of adults at the time of the survey, and incorporates the notion of (regular) smoking, as reported by respondents.

          Categories are:
          • Current regular (i.e. daily) smoker
          • Current smoker not regular
          • Ex-regular smoker;
          • Never smoked regularly.

          Smoking refers to the 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.

          Sparsely settled areas

          Refers to Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) in which the dwelling density for the SLA as a whole was less than 0.057 dwellings per square kilometre. The terms 'Sparsely settled areas' and 'Non-sparsely settled areas' are used when discussing collection issues, while the terms 'Remote' and 'Non-remote' are used to describe issues relating to output. See Chapter 1 of this Users' Guide for a detailed explanation.

          Sun protection measures

          Measures taken in the month prior to interview. They include the use of sunscreen, umbrella, hat, clothing, sunglasses and avoiding the sun or limiting time in the sun.

          Type of condition

          As reported by respondents and coded using a system developed for the 2001 NHS. For output, conditions can be classified by ICD9, ICD10 and ICPC. See Chapter 3 Health Status Indicators of this Guide for further information.

          Type of event

          The type of event resulting in injury as reported by respondents against the following categories:
          • Vehicle accident
          • Low fall (one metre or less)
          • High fall
          • Hitting something or being hit by something
          • Attack by another person
          • Near drowning
          • Exposure to fire
          • Exposure to chemicals
          • Bite or sting
          • Other event requiring action.

          Food poisoning was from events resulting in injury.

          Type of injury

          The type injury as reported by respondents against the following categories:
          • Fractures
          • Internal injury
          • Dislocations, sprains, strains, torn muscles/ligaments
          • Open wounds
          • Bruising
          • Burns and scalds
          • Concussion
          • Choking
          • Poisoning (other than food poisoning)
          • Other

          Type of medication used for mental well-being

          Refers to the type of medication reported by adult respondents as used for their mental well-being in the 2 weeks prior to interview. Includes vitamins and minerals, natural and herbal medications and the following types of pharmaceutical medications:
            • sleeping tablets/capsules
            • tablets/capsules for anxiety or nerves
            • tranquillisers
            • antidepressants
            • mood stabilizers
            • other medications for mental health.


            An unemployed person was defined as one who met all of the following criteria:
            • who was not employed during the reference week
            • had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the 4 weeks up to the end of the reference week
            • was available for work in the reference week.

            Usual daily serves of fruit

            Refers to the number of serves of fruit (excluding drinks and beverages) usually consumed each day as reported by the respondent. Fruit included fresh, dried, frozen and tinned. A serve of fruit was defined as approximately 150 grams of fresh fruit or 50 grams of dried fruit. To assist respondents in the interview, they were shown photos of individual fruit serves as a medium piece of fruit, two small pieces of fruit or a cup of diced fruit. A single serve of dried fruit was described, if required, as a quarter of a cup of sultanas or four dried apricot halves.

            Usual daily serves of vegetables

            Refers to the number of serves of vegetables (excluding drinks and beverages) usually consumed each day as reported by the respondent. Vegetables included all types such as potatoes, salad and stir-fried vegetables, whether fresh, frozen or tinned. A serve of vegetables was defined as approximately 75 grams of vegetables. To assist respondents in the interview, they were shown photos of single serves of vegetables as half a cup of cooked vegetables or a cup of salad vegetables.


            See Usual daily serves of vegetables.

            Vitamin and mineral supplements

            Vitamin and mineral supplements as reported by respondents. The data covers only vitamins and mineral supplements used in the previous 2 weeks for asthma, cancer, heart and circulatory conditions, diabetes or mental well-being. Information on the types of vitamin and mineral supplements used was not collected in this survey.

            Work related conditions

            Long-term medical conditions reported in the survey due to an accident, incident or exposure, and which the respondent identified as work-related.

            Chapter 1 - Introduction

            Chapter 2 - Survey Design and Operation

            Chapter 3 - Health Status Indicators

            Chapter 4 - Health Related Actions

            Chapter 5 - Health Risk Factors

            Chapter 6 - Population Characteristics

            Chapter 7 - Data Quality and Interpretation of results

            Chapter 8 - Data Output and Dissemination
            Appendix 1 - Glossary of Terms Used

            Appendix 2 - Sample Counts and Weighted Estimates

            Appendix 3 - Classification of Long-term Medical Conditions: Based on ICD-10

            Appendix 4 - Classification of Long-term Medical Conditions: Based on ICD-9

            Appendix 5 - Classification of Long-term Medical Conditions: ICPC Based

            Appendix 6 - Classification of Type of Medication

            Appendix 7 - Classification of Country of Birth

            Appendix 8 - Classification of Language Spoken at Home
            Appendix 9 - Classification of Occupation

            Appendix 10 - Classification of Industry of Employment

            Appendix 11 - Classification of Types of Alcoholic Drinks

            Appendix 12 - Standard Errors

            Appendix 13 - Content of the 2001 National Health Survey (Indigenous)

            Appendix 14 - List of Abbreviations

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