Healthy Communities: Australians' experiences with access to health care in 2011–12 - Technical Supplement - Glossary and Index

Healthy Communities: Australians' experiences with access to health care in 2011–12

Glossary and Index

Age standardisation Age-standardised rates enable the comparison of rates between populations with different age structures by removing the influence of age. The current standard population is the Australian Estimated Resident Population as at 30 June 2001.6 Rates are expressed per person in this report. The direct method was used to convert the age structures of the populations being studied to the same ‘standard’ structure, thereby enabling the calculation and comparison of rates that would have occurred if these populations had the same age distribution as the standard population while all other factors remained unchanged. See Age standardising in the Medicare Benefits Schedule statistics section for more information on the methodology used.
Attendances Attendances are defined in the Medicare Benefits Schedule and are synonymous with a visit or consultation between a medical practitioner or primary health care provider and a patient.
Confidence interval See Reliability of proportions.
Concordances See Geographic Correspondences.
Correspondences See Geographic Correspondences.
Decile group Selected Medicare Benefits Schedule statistics for Statistical Area Level 3 regions were ranked from highest to lowest and then split into 10 equal groups called deciles.
Discrete Indigenous communities

The ABS Labour Force Survey sample (the underlying survey sample for the ABS Patient Experience Survey sample) is based on the ABS Population Survey Framework, which in turn is composed of three components: the private dwelling framework, the special dwelling framework and the Indigenous Community Framework (ICF). These three frames are non-overlapping and the latter two components are not within the scope of the ABS Patient Experience Survey 2011–12.

The 2006 Indigenous Communities Framework contains all 2006 Census Collection Districts with an identified population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples greater that 75% of the total population. There are approximately 650 Census Collection Districts and 1300 Indigenous communities in the Indigenous Communities Framework. For further information, see Chapter 18 of the ABS release Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, Apr 2007 (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001).

General practitioner General practitioners include Fellows of the RACGP or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), vocationally registered general practitioners and medical practitioners undertaking approved GP training. This also includes doctors who are eligible for the Other Medical Practitioners programs run by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.
Geographic correspondences Geographic correspondences (sometimes referred to as concordances or mapping files) can be used where the location information in an original survey, census or administrative data is not available at the geographic level required for analysis and reporting. They are a mathematical method of reassigning data from one geographic region (for example, a postcode of a patients address in MBS records) to a new geographic region (for example, Medicare Local or Statistical Area Level 3 geographic areas). When reporting data for counts of people, it is preferable to use correspondences weighted for population, rather than area-based correspondences. For further information, see the ABS online publications, Information Paper: Converting Data to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard, 2012 (cat. no. 1216.0.55.004) and Information Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Correspondences, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.006). In 2012, the Authority commissioned the ABS to compile several correspondences to convert data from other geographic levels to Medicare Local geographic level using Medicare Local level boundaries and names that were available at the time.
GP attendances GP attendances are MBS non-referred attendances provided by medical practitioners, excluding services provided by practice nurses and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners on behalf of medical practitioners.
Hospital ‘Hospital’ in this report refers to any hospital, including both public and private hospitals.
Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage The ABS Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) includes four summary measures that have been created from 2006 Census information. For the formation of peer groups and comparison of Medicare Locals within their peer group, on ABS advice the Authority has used the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage (IRSD). This Index focuses primarily on disadvantage, and is derived from Census variables such as low income, low educational attainment, unemployment, and dwellings without motor vehicles. For further information see the ABS Information Paper: An Introduction to Socio- Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), 2006 (ABS catalogue no. 2039.0).
Long-term health condition Long-term health conditions included any of the following conditions that had lasted, or was likely to last, six months or more: arthritis or osteoporosis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart or circulatory condition, mental illness, long-term injury, or any other long-term health condition.
Medical specialist If respondents to the ABS Patient Experience Survey sought clarification on the definition of medical specialist, interviewers were instructed to advise that medical specialists provide services which are covered, at least in part, by Medicare (e.g. dermatologists, cardiologists, neurologists and gynaecologists).7

Medicare gives eligible people access to:

  • Free or subsidised treatment by health professionals such as doctors, specialists, optometrists, dentists and other allied health practitioners (in special circumstances only)
  • Free treatment and accommodation as a public (Medicare) patient in a hospital.
Medicare Local

A key component of the Australian Governments National Health Reforms is the establishment of a new nationwide network of Medicare Locals. Medicare Locals are primary health care organisations established to improve responsiveness, coordinate primary health care delivery and tackle local health care needs and service gaps. They will drive improvements in primary health care and ensure that services are better tailored to meet the needs of local communities. For this report, statistical information is presented using the boundaries of Medicare Locals as released by the Department of Health and Ageing.8

With Medicare Locals being a relatively new geographic construct, little data is readily available at the Medicare Local level. Data for several items presented in this report are initially held at other geographic levels which have required the use of correspondences so as to convert data from the original geographic level at which the data are held to the required Medicare Local geographic level.

NP – Not available for publication This designation is used when data are not able to be published for reasons related to reliability, validity and/or confidentiality. Methods used to determine whether a statistic is published are included in this Technical Supplement.
Peer group To enable fairer comparisons, Medicare Locals were allocated to one of seven peer groups based on socioeconomic status and remoteness.
Population This report has made use of two population estimates. These are based on the ABS Estimated Resident Population: one at 30 June 2006 in relation to Medicare Locals by the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) Remoteness Structure using 2006 Census results; the second on preliminary estimates as at 30 June 2011 based on the 2011 Census results.
Potential years of life lost (PYLL) PYLL measures the extent of premature mortality, where premature mortality is assumed to be any death at ages of 0-74 years, inclusive. Results are weighted by the interval between the age at death (being the number of completed years of age, plus 0.5 years calculated as an adjustment to account for age at death being truncated to completed years) and 75 years. By estimating PYLL for deaths of people aged 0-74 years it is possible to compare the relative health of the population in each geographic area, expressed per 100,000 population.
Quintile group Selected ABS Patient Experience Survey 2011–12 results for Medicare Locals were ranked from highest to lowest and then split into five equal groups called quintiles.
Remoteness Area Remoteness Area categories used in this report are based on the ABS 2006 Census of Population and Housing using ARIA+. For information on the Remoteness Area categories of geographic areas used in this report, see Statistical Geography Volume 1 Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), July 2006, cat. no. 1216.0.
Residential aged-care facility Residential aged-care facilities provide accommodation and support for people who can no longer live at home. They are regulated and partially funded by the Commonwealth Government. Two levels of residential care are provided in Australia. These are low level (hostel) services, and high level (nursing home) services.
Socioeconomic status

Information from the ABS Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)–Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage was used as part of the methodology to group Medicare Locals into seven comparable peer groups to support comparisons of similar locales.

SEIFA includes four summary measures that have been created from 2006 Census information. The indexes can be used to explore different aspects of socioeconomic conditions by geographic areas. For each index, every geographic area in Australia is given a SEIFA number which shows how disadvantaged that area is compared with other areas in Australia. Each index summarises a different aspect of the socioeconomic conditions of people living in an area. They each summarise a different set of social and economic information. The indexes provide more general measures of socioeconomic status than is given by measuring income or unemployment alone, for example.

The Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage is derived from Census variables related to disadvantage, such as low income, low educational attainment, unemployment, and dwellings without motor vehicles. For further information see the ABS publication, Information Paper: An Introduction to Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), 2006 (ABS catalogue number 2039.0).

Standard error Since the Patient Experience data in this report are based on information obtained from a sample, they are subject to sampling variability. That is, they may differ from those estimates that would have been produced if all dwellings 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 dwellings (or households) was included. There are about two chances in three (67%) that a sample estimate will differ by less than one standard error from the number that would have been obtained if all dwellings had been included, and about 19 chances in 20 (95%) that the difference will be less than two standard errors.
Statistical Area Level 3

Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3s) are geographic areas defined in the ABS Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). The aim of SA3s is to create a standard framework for the analysis of ABS data at the regional level through clustering groups of SA2s that have similar regional characteristics.

There are 351 SA3s covering the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps. They are designed to provide a regional breakdown of Australia. SA3s generally have a population of between 30,000 and 130,000 people. There are approximately 50 with fewer than 30,000 people and 35 with more than 130,000 as at 30 June 2011.

In the major cities, they represent the area serviced by a major transport and commercial hub. They often closely align to large urban local government areas (e.g. Parramatta, Geelong).

In regional areas, they represent the area serviced by regional cities with populations of more than 20,000 people. In outer regional and remote areas, they represent areas which are widely recognised as having a distinct identity and have similar social and economic characteristics (e.g. Macedon Ranges in Victoria, Southern Highlands in NSW).

There are a small number of zero SA3s. These have an effective design population of zero and represent very large National Parks close to the outskirts of major cities.

6. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, Causes of Death, Australia 2011, Glossary, cat. no. 3303.0, ABS, Canberra, viewed 12 February 2013,

7. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2011–12, Glossary, cat. no. 4839.0, ABS, Canberra, viewed 12 February 2013,–12?opendocument&tabname=Notes&prodno=4839.0&issue=2011–12&num=&view=.

8. Department of Health and Ageing 2012, Medicare Locals, Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra, viewed on 13 February 2013