4327.0 - National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Users' Guide, 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/02/2009   
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Abuse (Substance)

See Harmful Use.

Affective disorders

Disorders that involve mood disturbance, such as Depressive Episode or Dysthymia. See Chapter 3.


Fear of being in public places from which it may be difficult to escape (eg fear of leaving home). A compelling desire to avoid the phobic situation is often prominent. See Chapter 3.

Alcohol use

Frequency of consumption in the 12 months prior to interview. Only persons who had at least 12 standard drinks in a year were asked about their consumption. See Standard drink and Chapter 3.

Anxiety disorders

Disorders that involve feelings of tension, distress or nervousness, such as Social Phobia or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). See Chapter 3.

Assessment of Quality of Life (AQoL)

An Australian-developed quality of life instrument that is used to measure the burden of disease. See Chapter 6.

Australian Defence Force service

Includes persons who had overseas qualifying service, serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members.

Bipolar Affective Disorder

Characterised by repeated episodes in which the person's mood and activity levels are significantly disturbed - on some occasions lowered (depression) and on some occasions elevated (mania or hypomania). See Chapter 3.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Calculated using self-reported height and weight information. The BMI formula = weight (kg) divided by the square of height (m). See Chapter 5.


The provision of care to an immediate family member who has a chronic condition (eg cancer, serious heart problems, serious memory problems, an intellectual or physical disability, or serious mental health problems). Provision of care includes help with daily tasks, getting around or taking medications, or giving emotional support. See Chapter 7.

Chronic conditions

A physical condition or disorder that has lasted, or is expected to last for six (6) months or more. May also be referred to as a long-term health condition or chronic disease. See Chapter 5.


The occurrence of more than one mental disorder at the same time or the co-occurrence of mental disorder/s and physical condition/s. See Chapter 3.

Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI)

A comprehensive modular interview which can be used to assess lifetime and 12-month prevalence of mental disorders through the measurement of symptoms and their impact on day-to-day activities.

Country of birth

The place where a person was born. See Chapter 9.

Days out of role

The number of days in the 30 days prior to interview that a person was unable to work or carry out normal activities or had to cut down what they did because of their health. See Chapter 5.


Groupings that result from ranking all households in the population in ascending order according to some characteristic, such as income, and then dividing the population into 10 equal groups, each comprising 10% of the estimated population. The first decile contains the bottom 10%, the second decile contains the next 10% and so on. Income decile cut-off amounts for personal (gross weekly cash) and household (both gross weekly cash and equivalised) income are provided in Chapter 9.

Dependence (Substance)

A maladaptive pattern of use in which the use of drugs or alcohol takes on a much higher priority for a person than other behaviours that once had greater value. The central characteristic is the strong, sometimes overpowering, desire to take the substance despite significant substance-related problems. See Chapter 3.

Depressive Episode

A state of gloom, despondency or sadness lasting at least two weeks. The person usually suffers from low mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced energy. Their sleep, appetite and concentration may be affected. See Chapter 3.

Disability status

Whether a person has a disability and the level of core-activity limitation (none, mild, moderate, severe or profound). People aged 16-64 years were also assessed as to whether they had a schooling or employment restriction. See Chapter 5.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV)

The DSM-IV is a handbook for mental health professionals that lists different categories of mental disorders and the criteria for diagnosing them. The DSM-IV focuses on clinical, research and educational purposes, supported by an extensive empirical foundation.

Drug use

The use of illicit drugs and/or the misuse of prescription drugs in the person's lifetime. Only people who had used illicit drugs/misused prescription drugs more than 5 times in their lifetime were asked questions about harmful use/abuse and/or dependence. See Chapter 3.

Drug Use disorders

The harmful use/abuse and/or dependence on drugs. Drug use includes the use of illicit substances and the misuse of prescribed medicines. See Chapter 3.


A suite of rooms contained within a building which are self-contained and intended for long-term residential use. To be self-contained, the suite of rooms must possess cooking and bathing facilities as building fixtures. Examples of types of dwelling include: separate house; semi-detached, row or terrace house or townhouse; flat, unit or apartment; and other dwellings, including caravan, cabin, houseboat, and house or flat attached to a shop.


A disorder characterised by constant or constantly recurring chronic depression of mood, lasting at least two years, which is not sufficiently severe, or whose episodes are not sufficiently prolonged, to qualify as recurrent depressive disorder. See Chapter 3.


See Level of highest non-school qualification.


Persons aged 16 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 people who were absent from a job or business during the survey reference week. See Chapter 9.

Employed full-time

Employed persons who usually worked 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs).

Employed part-time

Employed persons who usually worked less than 35 hours a week (in all jobs).

Equivalised income

See Household income.

Family composition of household

The family composition of the household to which the respondent belonged, including:

  • lone person;
  • couple only;
  • couple family with child(ren);
  • one parent family with child(ren); and
  • other households.

For more information see Chapter 9.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

A disorder involving anxiety that is generalised and persistent, but not restricted to any particular environmental circumstances. It is chronic and exaggerated worry or tension, even though nothing seems to provoke it. See Chapter 3.

Government support

Cash support from the government in the form of pensions, benefits or allowances. See Chapter 9.

Gross weekly cash income

See Household income and Personal income.

Harmful Use (Substance)

A pattern of use of alcohol and/or drugs that is responsible for (or substantially contributes to) physical or psychological harm, including impaired judgement or dysfunctional behaviour. See Chapter 3.

Health risk factors

Characteristics that may increase the likelihood of injury or illness, for example level of exercise or smoking. See Chapter 5.

Hierarchy rules

When hierarchy rules are applied, a person is excluded from a diagnosis, even though they have sufficient symptoms to meet criteria, because they have another disorder that is thought to account for those symptoms. See Chapter 3.


Refers to a person who at some point in their lives was homeless, ie they slept in public places, homeless shelters, a tent, an abandoned building or 'couch surfed' because they had no other choice.


A group of residents of a dwelling who share common facilities and meals or who consider themselves to be a household.

Household income

Derived as the sum of the reported personal cash incomes of all household members aged 15 years and over. Household income data is available as gross weekly cash or equivalised income in dollar amounts or in deciles.
  • Gross weekly cash income is the sum of the income from all household members (pre-tax).
  • Equivalised income is the income of all household members (pre-tax), adjusted by the number of persons in the household.

See Deciles and Chapter 9.


A lesser degree of mania characterised by a persistent mild elevation of mood and increased activity lasting at least four consecutive days. Increased sociability, over-familiarity and a decreased need for sleep are often present, but not to the extent that they lead to severe disruption. See Chapter 3.

Immediate family members

Parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, brothers and sisters, children, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and spouse/partner. See Chapter 7.


Refers to a person who at some point in their lives spent time in gaol, prison or a correctional facility.


Money received from:
  • wages and salaries;
  • profit/loss from own unincorporated business or share in partnership;
  • government pensions and allowances; or
  • any other regular source.

See Personal income and Household income.

Income deciles

See Deciles.


A group of businesses or organisations which perform similar sets of activities in terms of the production of goods and services, which have been grouped together for the purposes of classification. See Chapter 9.

International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10)

The tenth edition of the international standard diagnostic classification for all general epidemiological purposes, many health management purposes and clinical use. The ICD is produced by the World Health Organization and is used in the diagnosis, study and classification of diseases.


The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). A non-specific psychological distress scale based on 10 questions about emotional states in the 30 days prior to interview. See Chapter 6.

Labour force status

Based on work-related activities in the week prior to interview, people were classified as:
  • employed;
  • unemployed; or
  • not in the labour force

See Chapter 9.

Level of exercise

Based on frequency, intensity (ie walking, moderate exercise or vigorous exercise) and duration of exercise (for recreation, sport or fitness) in the week prior to interview. From these components a level of exercise was determined. See Chapter 5.

Level of highest non-school qualification

The highest level of educational attainment above secondary school (ie Year 12). See Chapter 9.

Main source of personal income

Where there was more than one reported source of personal income, a main source was nominated. See Chapter 9.


A disorder in which mood is happy, elevated, expansive or irritable out of keeping with the person's circumstances lasting at least seven days and leading to severe disruption with daily living. See Chapter 3.

Marital status

See Registered marital status and Social marital status.


The type of medication/s used for mental health in the two weeks prior to interview. See Chapter 8.

Mental disorder

A disorder implies 'the existence of a clinically recognisable set of symptoms or behaviour associated in most cases with distress and with interference with personal functions' (WHO, 1992, p5). Most diagnoses require criteria relating to severity and duration to be met. See Chapter 3.

Mental health problem

Perceived problems with mental health, such as stress, worry or sadness, regardless of whether a person met the criteria for diagnosis of a mental disorder.

Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE)

A brief assessment that can be used to screen for the presence of cognitive impairment. Only people aged 65-85 years were assessed. See Chapter 6.

Not in the labour force

People who were not categorised as either 'employed' or 'unemployed'. See Chapter 9.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Characterised by obsessions (recurrent thoughts, ideas or images), compulsions (repetitive acts) or both, which cause distress or interfere with the person's normal functioning. See Chapter 3.


A collection of jobs that are sufficiently similar in their title and tasks, skill level and skill specialisation, which have been grouped together for the purposes of classification. See Chapter 9.

Panic attack

A panic attack is a discrete episode of intense fear or discomfort that starts abruptly and reaches a peak within a few minutes and lasts at least some minutes. See Chapter 3.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is recurrent attacks of severe anxiety (panic), which are not restricted to any particular situation or set of circumstances (ie do not occur in the presence of a phobia, or in situations of danger) and are therefore unpredictable. See Chapter 3.

Perceived need for help

For each type of help, perceived health needs were classified as:
  • no need;
  • need fully met;
  • need partially met; or
  • need not met.

See Types of assistance for mental health problems and Chapter 8.

Personal income

The amount/s of gross weekly cash income received (pre-tax) and the source/s of income. See Chapter 9.

Physical condition

A medical condition, illness, injury or disability that a person had been told by a doctor or nurse that they had, or in the case of stroke, that they had experienced (eg asthma, cancer, or diabetes). See Chapter 5.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A delayed and/or protracted response to a psychologically distressing event that is outside the range of usual human experience. Experiencing such an event is usually associated with intense fear, terror or helplessness. See Chapter 3.

Prevalence of mental disorders

The proportion of people in a given population who met the criteria for diagnosis of a mental disorder at a point in time.


A mental disorder in which the person has strange ideas or experiences which are unaffected by rational argument and are out of keeping with the views of any culture or group that the person belongs to. See Chapter 6.

Registered marital status

A person's current status in regard to a registered marriage, ie whether they are widowed, divorced, separated, married or have never been married. See Chapter 9.

Section of state

A geographical classification based on the population counts which define Collection Districts (CDs) as urban or rural areas. See Chapter 9.


Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas. A suite of four summary measures which assess different aspects of socio-economic conditions in an area. See Chapter 9.

Services used for mental health problems

Services used for self-perceived mental health problems in the 12 months prior to interview. Services include admissions to hospitals and consultations with health professionals. See Chapter 8.

Severity measure

The impact a mental disorder has on a person, which is calculated through an attributed level of impairment. See Chapter 6.

Smoker status

The extent to which a person was smoking at the time of interview. See Chapter 5.

Social marital status

Social marital status is the relationship status of an individual with reference to another person who is usually resident in the household. A marriage exists when two people live together as husband and wife, or partners, regardless of whether the marriage is formalised through registration. See Chapter 9.

Social networks

For people who had contact with family and/or friends, whether they could rely on or confide in them if they were faced with a serious problem. See Chapter 7.

Social Phobia

A persistent, irrational fear of being the focus of attention, or fear of behaving in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating. These fears arise in social situations such as meeting new people or speaking in public. A compelling desire to avoid the phobic situation may result. See Chapter 3.

Standard drink

A standard drink contains 12.5ml of alcohol. The serving size determines the number of standard drinks per serve. See Alcohol Use and Chapter 3.

Substance Use disorders

Substance Use disorders include harmful use/abuse and/or dependence on alcohol and/or drugs. See Chapter 3.

Suicidal behaviour

Behaviour during the person's lifetime and the 12 months prior to interview, including:
  • ideation (ie the presence of serious thoughts about committing suicide);
  • plans; or
  • attempts.

See Chapter 6.

Type of assistance for mental health problems

Types of assistance used for mental health problems (eg information, medication, counselling). See Chapter 8.

Type of health professional

Type of health professionals that a person had a consultation with (eg general practitioner (GP), psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health nurse). See Chapter 8.


People aged 16 years and over who were not employed during the reference week, and:
  • had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week and were available for work in the reference week; or
  • were waiting to start a new job within four weeks from the end of the reference week and could have started in the reference week if the job had been available then.

See Chapter 9.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends. For more information see the WHO website <www.who.int/>


The WHO Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS) is a simple tool for assessing disturbances in social adjustment and behaviour in people with a mental disorder. See Chapter 5.