Glossary

ADF personnel: Serving, reserve and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF); does not include civilian personnel employed by the Department of Defence.

aged care services: Regulated care delivered in either residential or community settings, including the person’s own home. Most formal care is funded through government programs but may also be purchased privately. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs funds care programs for eligible veterans, war widows and widowers.

age-specific rate: A rate for a specific age group. The numerator and denominator relate to the same age group.

age-standardisation: A method of removing the influence of age when comparing populations with different age structures. This is usually necessary because the rates of many events (e.g. deaths, service use) vary with age. The age structures of the different populations are converted to the same ‘standard’ structure, and then the rates that would have occurred with that structure are calculated and compared.

age structure: The relative number of people in each age group in a population.

alcohol use disorder: A class of mental disorder involving the harmful use and/or dependence on alcohol.

all-cause mortality: Deaths due to any cause.

body mass index (BMI): The most commonly used method of assessing whether a person is normal weight, underweight, overweight or obese. It is calculated by dividing the person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres) squared; that is, kg÷m2. For both men and women, underweight is a BMI below 18.5, acceptable weight is from 18.5 to less than 25, overweight is from 25 to less than 30, and obese is 30 and over. Sometimes overweight and obese are combined, and defined as a BMI of 25 and over.

cancer (malignant neoplasm): A large range of diseases where some of the body’s cells become defective, begin to multiply out of control, invade and damage the area around them, and can then spread to other parts of the body to cause further damage.

cancer incidence: The number or rate of new cases of cancer diagnosed in a population during a given time period.

cause of death: All diseases, morbid conditions or injuries that either resulted in or contributed to death—and the circumstances of the accident or violence that produced any such injuries—that are entered on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Causes of death are commonly reported by the underlying cause of death.

certified suicide death: Official fact of death and cause of death determination (including suicide death) from the Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages in each state and territory and the National Coronial Information System, compiled and coded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

chronic diseases/conditions: A diverse group of diseases/conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis, which tend to be long lasting and persistent in their symptoms or development. Although these features also apply to some communicable diseases (infectious diseases), the term is usually confined to non-communicable diseases. Examples of chronic diseases include diabetes, asthma and heart disease.

cohort: A group of people who share a similar characteristic(s) (for example, age).

combat death: A death that occurs during an action fought between two military forces.

commissioned officer: An appointed Defence member who holds a rank of Midshipman or Officer Cadet, or higher.

confidence interval: A range determined by variability in data, within which there is a specified (usually 95%) chance that the true value of a calculated parameter lies.

core activity limitation: A limitation where one needs assistance with, has difficulties with, or uses aids or equipment to help with self-care, mobility and/or communication.

correlation: The strength of an association between variables, given by a value between –1 and 1, where stronger relationships are indicated by values further away from 0. High correlation can be defined as being greater than 0.70 or less than –0.70.

counts of death: The number of deaths in a population in a given time period.

crude rate: The number of occurrences of an event (for example, number of deaths) divided by the corresponding population multiplied by 100,000 (which provides the number of events (deaths) per 100,000 population in a given time period).

current smoker: A person who reported at the time of interview that they smoked cigarettes, cigars or pipes.

data linkage: The bringing together (linking) of information from two or more different data sources that are believed to relate to the same entity; for example, the same individual or the same institution. This linkage can yield more information about the entity and in certain cases, provide a time sequence—helping to ‘tell a story’, show ‘pathways’ and perhaps unravel cause and effect. The term is used synonymously with ‘record linkage’ and ‘data integration’.

demographic characteristics: Characteristics of a population expressed statistically, such as age and sex.

dependant: The partner, parent, step-parent, grandparent, child, step-child, grandchild, sibling or half-sibling of a current or former ADF member. The member’s partner’s parent, step-parent, child or step-child may also be included as dependants. Further, a dependant may also include a person who stands in the position of a parent to the member, or a person in respect of whom the member stands in the position of a parent.

deployment: See operational service.

Deseal/Reseal (DSRS): A term used to describe the formal F-111 aircraft fuel tank repair and maintenance programs that required degraded tank sealant (deseal) to be removed and a new sealant (reseal) applied. As well as these formal programs, ad hoc maintenance was undertaken as part of routine tank repairs and maintenance, in order to keep the aircraft operational.

disability: An umbrella term for any or all of an impairment of body structure or function, a limitation in activities, or a restriction in participation. Disability is a multidimensional concept, and is considered as an interaction between health conditions and personal and environmental factors.

discharge (ADF):  Separation from the ADF.

employed: Describes people aged 15 and over who have a job or business, or who undertake work without pay in a family business for a minimum of 1 hour per week. Includes people who are absent from a job or business.

exposure (DSRS): Involvement in any of the four formal DSRS programs or associated duties, including ad hoc and ‘pick and patch’ maintenance, between 1977 and January 2000.

ex-serving: ADF members who have discharged from the serving or reserve population.

ex-smoker: A person who reported that they did not currently smoke, but had regularly smoked daily, or had smoked at least 100 cigarettes, or smoked pipes, cigars, and so on at least 20 times in their lifetime (from the ABS 2014–15 National Health Survey).

external cause of death (or injury-related death): Is one of a group of causes external to the body (for example, suicide, transport accidents, falls, poisonings and assault).

family: Two or more people, one of whom is at least 15 years old, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering, and who are usually living in the same household. Each separately identified couple relationship, lone parent to child relationship or other blood relationship forms the basis of a family. Some households contain more than one family.

general practitioner (GP): A medical practitioner who provides primary comprehensive and continuing care to patients and their families within the community.

hospitalisation: Synonymous with admission and separation; that is, an episode of hospital care that starts with the formal admission process and ends with the formal separation process. An episode of care can be completed by the patient’s being discharged, transferred to another hospital or care facility, or dying, or by a portion of a hospital stay beginning or ending in a change of type of care (for example, from acute to rehabilitation).

incidence: The number of new cases (of an illness or event, and so on) occurring during a given period. Compare with prevalence.

incidence relative risk (cancer): The ratio of the observed cancer incidence rate in the study population to the estimated (weighted) rate in the comparison population(s).

Indigenous: Describes a person of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent or who identifies as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

informal carer: A person of any age who provides any informal assistance, in terms of help or supervision, to people with disability or long-term conditions, or to people aged 65 and over. This assistance must be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least 6 months.

labour force: People who were employed or unemployed (that is, not employed but actively looking for work).

leading cause of death: The underlying cause of death categories (ICD-10) or groupings (such as coronary heart disease, land transport accidents) that account for the largest numbers of deaths within a population or age group.

length of service: The time between the date of hire and date of separation (discharge) from the ADF.

length of stay (hospital): Duration of hospital stay, calculated by subtracting the date the patient is admitted from the date of separation. All leave days, including the day the patient went on leave, are excluded. A same-day patient is allocated a length of stay of 1 day.

lifetime risk (alcohol): The accumulated risk from drinking either on many drinking occasions, or on a regular (for example, daily) basis over a lifetime. The lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury increases with the amount consumed. For healthy men and women, drinking no more than 2 standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.

median: The midpoint of a list of observations that have been ranked from smallest to largest.

median age: The age at which half the population is older than that age and half is younger than that age.

Medicare: A national, government-funded scheme that subsidises the cost of personal medical services for all Australians and aims to help them afford medical care. The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) is the listing of the Medicare services subsidised by the Australian Government. The schedule is part of the wider Medicare Benefits Scheme (Medicare).

mortality: Number or rate of deaths in a population during a given time period.

mortality relative risk: The ratio of the observed mortality rate in the study population to the estimated (weighted) rate in the comparison population(s).

mustering: A functional employment category to which an airman or airwoman is enlisted and which provides the employment basis on which their Air Force career is managed.

non-school qualification: Educational attainments other than those of pre-primary, primary and secondary education. They include qualifications at the following levels: Postgraduate Degree, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate, Bachelor Degree, Advanced Diploma and Diploma, and Certificates I, II, III and IV. Non-school qualifications may be attained concurrently with school qualifications.

nutrition: The intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs.

odds ratio: A measure of the association between an exposure and an outcome. The odds ratio represents the odds that an outcome will occur, given a particular exposure, compared with the odds of the outcome’s occurring in the absence of that exposure. For example, if the odds ratio between all ranks other than commissioned officers and commissioned officers is 2.2, this means that the particular outcome (such as death due to suicide) has 2.2 times the odds for all ranks other than commissioned officers than for commissioned officers, if all other factors (such as service) are held constant.

operational service: The four broad categories of deployment or operations: warlike operational service—warlike/active service deployments; non-warlike operational service—non-warlike deployments (for example, peace keeping, peace monitoring, UN assistance missions); overseas operational service—humanitarian/disaster relief (international) or border protection deployments; domestic operational service—deployment of Defence aid to the civilian community. Individuals with at least one type of operational service are counted in ‘Any’; those with no operational service are counted in ‘None’.

p-value: The probability that an observed difference has arisen by chance alone.

peacetime service: Service provided by an Australian person who is serving, or has served, with a Peacekeeping Force outside Australia. These are military operations in support of diplomatic efforts to restore peace between belligerents, who may not be consenting to intervention and may be engaged in combat activities.

permanent force: Members of the permanent forces of the ADF—Permanent Navy, Regular Army and Permanent Air Force—who usually serve in a full-time capacity and commit to an initial minimum period of service commensurate with the job role, rank and level of training.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS): A national, government-funded scheme that subsidises the cost of a wide range of pharmaceutical drugs for all Australians to ensure timely, reliable and affordable access to necessary medicines. The Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (Schedule) is published monthly and lists all the medicinal products available under the PBS and explains the uses for which they can be subsidised.

prevalence:  The number or proportion (of cases, instances, and so forth) in a population at a given time. In relation to cancer, refers to the number of people alive who had been diagnosed with cancer in a prescribed period (usually 1, 5, 10 or 26 years). Compare with incidence.

principal diagnosis: The diagnosis established after study to be chiefly responsible for occasioning an episode of patient care (hospitalisation), an episode of residential care or an attendance at the health care establishment.

protective factors: Factors that enhance the likelihood of positive outcomes and lessen the chance of negative consequences from exposure to risk.

rank: A term that describes one’s position in the ADF operational hierarchy. Analysis by rank is often presented for two broad groups: commissioned officer, and all ranks other than commissioned officer.

rate: One number (the numerator) divided by another number (the denominator). The numerator is commonly the number of events in a specified time. The denominator is the population “at risk” of the event. Rates (crude rates, age-specific rates and age-standardised – see age-standardisation) are generally multiplied by a number such as 100,000 to create whole numbers.

reason for discharge: The main reason recorded for a person’s separation (discharge) from the ADF. Analysis by reason for discharge is often presented by two broad groups: voluntary discharge—comprising personnel who take voluntary redundancies or who resign; and involuntary discharge—comprising personnel deemed unsuitable for further duty for disciplinary, medical and operational reasons. Involuntary discharge is further divided into discharge for medical reasons, and non-medical involuntary discharge (which includes being physically unfit for service, training failure and disciplinary reasons).

relative risk:  This measure is derived by comparing two groups for their likelihood of an event. It is also called the risk ratio because it is the ratio of the risk in the ‘exposed’ divided by the risk in the ‘unexposed’. It is also known as the rate ratio.

Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS):  The RPBS is subsidised by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), and can be accessed by veterans who have the following DVA cards:

  • Gold or Orange Card (all medical conditions)
  • White Card (specific medical conditions).
  • Under the RPBS, eligible veterans/war widow(er)s may receive:
  • items listed for supply in the PBS
  • items listed under the RPBS, including wound care products
  • items not listed on either the PBS or RPBS schedules, if clinically justified.
  • All medicines supplied under the RPBS are dispensed at the concessional rate (or free if the patient has reached their Safety Net threshold).

reserve/reservist: ADF members in the active or inactive reserve forces for the Navy, Army or Air Force. Most members leaving full-time service make the transition to the inactive reserve forces, unless there are medical or other grounds preventing this.

risk: The probability of an event occurring during a specified period of time.

service: The three broad arms of the ADF—the Navy, Army and Air Force.

service status: The broad nature of an individual’s employment with the ADF, namely: serving full time, in the reserves and ex-serving.

serving full time: A term that describes ADF members serving in a regular capacity in the Navy, Army or Air Force on continuous full-time service, or participating in the gap year program.

standard drink (alcohol): Containing 10 grams of alcohol (equivalent to 12.5 millilitres of alcohol). Also referred to as a full serve.

standardised incidence ratio (cancer): The ratio of the cancer incidence rate of a disease or condition in the study population or comparison population(s) to the rate in the Australian population, adjusting for differences in age structure between the two populations.

standardised mortality ratio (SMR): A ratio to compare mortality rates for the three Australia Defence Force (ADF) service status groups with the Australian population, adjusting for differences in age structure.

statistical power: The likelihood that a study will detect a true difference, where one exists.

statistical significance: A statistical measure indicating how likely the observed difference is due to chance alone.

suicide: An action to deliberately end one’s own life.

time since discharge: The period between separation (discharge) and a particular outcome of interest. For example, the time between discharge from the ADF and death for ex-serving personnel who have died.

transition: The process of moving from full-time, part-time or reserve ADF service into civilian life.

underlying cause of death: The disease or injury that initiated the train of events leading directly to death; that is, the primary or main cause of death. The underlying cause of death as reported on the National Mortality Database is used to assign the cause of death.

weighting: Adjustment of the characteristics of one group  so they are statistically similar to the characteristics of another group so that comparisons of the effect under study can be more certain.