Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander: In most data collections, a person who identified themselves, or was identified by another household member, as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. For a few data collections, information on acceptance of a person as being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander by a First Nations community may also be required. See also First Nations people.

activity code: A code denoting what a person was doing at the time of their injury resulting in hospitalisation.

acute: A term used to describe something that comes on suddenly and is often brief, intense and severe.

additional diagnosis: A condition or complaint either coexisting with the principal diagnosis or arising during the episode of hospitalisation or attendance in an emergency department.

adjusted health gap: The estimated gap in the proportion of First Nations people and non-Indigenous Australians considered to be in good health, after adjusting for differences in age, sex, marital status, state/territory and remoteness of residence between these 2 subpopulations.

admitted patient: A patient who undergoes a hospital’s formal admission process.

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

age standardisation: A method to remove the influence of age when comparing rates between population groups with different age structures. This method is used as the rate of many diseases vary strongly (usually increasing) with age, and so, too, can service use; for example, hospitalisations – a population group with an older age structure will likely have more hospitalisations. The age structures of different populations are converted to the same ‘standard’ structure, and then the relevant rates, such as hospitalisations, that would have occurred within that structure are calculated and compared.

age-standardised rates: Rates that enable populations that have different age structures to be compared. 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. Rates can be expressed in many ways – for example, per 100,000 per population years, per 100,000 population and per 1,000 population.

Alzheimer’s disease: A degenerative brain disease caused by nerve cell death resulting in shrinkage of the brain. A common form of dementia.

anxiety disorders: A group of mental disorders marked by excessive feelings of apprehension, worry, nervousness and stress. Includes generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and various phobias.

arthritis: A group of disorders for which there is inflammation of the joints, which can then become stiff, painful, swollen or deformed. The 2 main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

asthma: A common, chronic inflammatory disease of the air passages that presents as episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness due to widespread narrowing of the airways and obstruction of airflow.


back problems: A range of conditions related to the bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles and nerves of the back. Back problems are a substantial cause of disability and lost productivity.

behaviours and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD): Refer to a range of non-cognitive symptoms common among people with dementia. These include – agitation, anxiety, apathy, depression, hallucinations or delusions, insomnia, risky behaviour, resistive behaviour, verbal aggression and wandering.

burden of disease (and injury)The quantified impact of a disease or injury on a population, measured using the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).


cancer (malignant neoplasm)Cancer, also called malignancy, is a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.

cancer incidence: The number of new cases of cancer diagnosed in a given year.

cancer mortality: The number of deaths that occurred during a given year for which the underlying cause of death was recorded as cancer.

cancer prevalence: The total number of people alive at a specific date who have ever been diagnosed with cancer.

cancer survival: The probability of being alive for a given amount time after a diagnosis of cancer.

cardiovascular disease/condition: Any disease of the cardiovascular system, namely the heart (cardio) or blood vessels (vascular). Includes angina, heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. Also known as circulatory disease.

caries: Bacterial disease that causes the demineralisation and decay of teeth and can involve inflammation of the central dental pulp.

cause of death: The causes of death entered on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, which are 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. Causes of death are commonly reported by the underlying cause of death. 

cervical screening test (CST): A human papillomavirus (HPV) test with partial genotyping and, if the HPV test detects oncogenic HPV, liquid based cytology (LBC).

chronic conditions/diseases: 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, the term is usually confined to non-communicable diseases.

communicable disease: An infectious disease or illness that may be passed directly or indirectly from one person to another.

comorbidity: In relation to an index disease/condition, any additional disease experienced by a person while they have the index disease. The index and comorbid disease/condition will change depending on the focus of the study. Compare with multimorbidity.

concussion: A mild traumatic brain injury typically caused by a collision (with people or objects) resulting in an impulsive force to the head (ICD-10-AM acute concussive injury codes S06.0 to S06.05).

condition (health condition): A broad term that can be applied to any health problem, including symptoms, diseases and various risk factors (such as high blood cholesterol, and obesity). Often used synonymously with disorder.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019): an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

crude rate: A rate derived from the number of events recorded in a population during a specified time period, without adjustments for other factors such as age (compare with age-standardised rates).

current use of e‑cigarettes: A term describing people who reported using electronic cigarettes daily, weekly, monthly or less than monthly.

currently smoke: A term describing people who reported smoking tobacco daily, weekly or less than weekly.


daily smoking: A term describing people who reported smoking tobacco at least once a day (includes manufactured [packet] cigarettes, roll-your-own cigarettes, cigars or pipes). Excludes chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes (and similar) and smoking of non‑tobacco products.

daily use of e-cigarettes: A term describing people who reported using electronic cigarettes daily.

data linkage: Bringing together (linking) information from 2 or more data sources believed to relate to the same entity, such as the same individual or the same institution. This linkage can provide more information about the entity. In certain cases, it can 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.

dementia: General term for disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia, characterised by worsening mental processes. Symptoms include impaired memory, understanding, reasoning and physical functioning.

dental services: Preventive, diagnostic and restorative services provided by registered dental professionals.

depression: A mood disorder with prolonged feelings of being sad, hopeless, low and inadequate, with a loss of interest or pleasure in activities and often with suicidal thoughts or self-blame.

determinant: Any factor that can increase the chances of ill health (risk factors) or good health (protective factors) in a population or individual. By convention, services or other programs that aim to improve health are usually not included in this definition.

diabetes (diabetes mellitus)A chronic condition in which the body cannot properly use its main energy source, the sugar glucose. This is due to a relative or absolute deficiency in insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps glucose enter the body’s cells from the bloodstream and then be processed by them. Diabetes is marked by an abnormal build-up of glucose in the blood, and it can have serious short- and long-term effects. There are 3 main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.

disability-adjusted life year (DALY): A year (1 year) of healthy life lost, either through premature death or, equivalently, through living with disability due to illness or injury. It is the basic unit used in burden of disease and injury estimates.

disease: A physical or mental disturbance involving symptoms (such as pain or feeling unwell), dysfunction or tissue damage, especially if these symptoms and signs form a recognisable clinical pattern.

do not smoke: A term describing people who reported never smoking tobacco, or smoking tobacco previously but not currently (ex-smoking).


e-cigarette: refer to electronic cigarettes. 

electronic cigarettes: Devices where people inhale vapour rather than smoke. The inhaled aerosol usually contains flavourings and may also contain nicotine. Also called e-cigarettes or vapes.

emergency department (ED) presentation: An injury incident where a person visited an emergency department (see emergency department (ED)).

emergency department (ED): A dedicated hospital area that administers emergency care to patients suffering from an acute medical condition or injury.

end status: The status of the patient at the end of the non-admitted patient emergency department service episode, as represented by a code.

ENSO, El Niño and La Niña: El Niño–Southern Oscillation and climate drivers declared by the Bureau of Meteorology, based on oceanic temperatures and currents in the Pacific Ocean.

ever use of e-cigarettes: A term that describes people who have used electronic cigarettes at least once in their lifetime.

exceeded lifetime risk guidelines for alcohol consumption: Based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey. Where a person’s reported average daily alcohol consumption was determined to exceed the National Health and Medical Research Council 2009 guideline 1 for the consumption of alcohol, which recommends no more than 2 standard drinks per day to reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.

ex-smoking: A term that describes a person who has smoked at least 100 cigarettes or equivalent tobacco in their lifetime but does not smoke at all now.

external cause: The environmental event, circumstance or condition given as the cause of injury, poisoning and other adverse effect.

external cause: The event, circumstance or condition given as the cause of injury, poisoning and other adverse effect.


fatal burden: The quantified impact on a population of premature death due to disease or injury. Measured as years of life lost (YLL).

First Nations people: People who have identified themselves, or have been identified by a representative (for example, their parent or guardian), as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. 


general practice: A medical practice that includes fully-qualified general practitioners (GPs).

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

genomic sequence: a process to decipher the genetic material found in an organism or a virus to enable tracking of a virus.

genomic surveillance: the process of collecting genomic sequence data from representative populations to detect new variants and monitor trends. 

good health: An indicator variable (either ‘yes’ or ‘no’) based on a composite good health score with 3 sub-components: self-assessed health, emotional distress and morbidity. See the section in the article ‘Size and sources of the health gap for Australia’s First Nations people 2017–2019’ headed ‘How is ‘good health’ measured?’ and the accompanying technical note ‘Notes on the good health score sub-components’.


health outcome: A change in the health of an individual or population due wholly or partly to a preventive or clinical intervention.

health: Term relating to whether the body (including the mind) is in a well or ill state. With good health, the state of the body and mind are such that a person feels and functions well and can continue to do so for as long as possible.

health-adjusted life expectancy: The average number of years that a person at a specific age can expect to live in full health; that is, taking into account years lived in less than full health due to the health consequences of disease and/or injury.

heatwave: An event said to occur when maximum and minimum temperatures are unusually hot over 3 or more days compared with the local climate and past weather.

hospital: A health‑care facility established under Australian, state or territory legislation as a hospital or a free‑standing day procedure unit and authorised to provide treatment and/or care to patients.

hospitalisation: 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 patients 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). The term is synonymous with admission and separation.


immunisation: A procedure designed to induce immunity against infection by using an antigen to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies. See also vaccination.

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

indicator: A key statistical measure selected to help describe (indicate) a situation concisely so as to track change, progress and performance – and to act as a guide for decision-making.

infectious disease: A disease or illness caused by an infectious agent (bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi and their toxic products). Many infectious diseases are also communicable diseases.

informal carer: A person who provides unpaid assistance or supervision to someone – usually family and friends – who needs help because of disability, physical or mental health condition, end-of-life health condition or old age, with assistance being ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least 6 months. In the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, informal assistance may include instances where small amounts of money, or payments for expenses incurred, are paid to the carer by the person whom they care for, or where assistance is received from family or friends who are living in the same household, whether or not the carer is paid. 

injury hospitalisation: An incident where a person is admitted to hospital with injury as the main reason. If a single incident led to an admission in more than one hospital, the incident has only been counted once in data reported in this article. The term ‘case’ is synonymous with ‘injury hospitalisation’.

insufficient physical activity: Based on AIHW analysis of the National Health Survey, insufficient physical activity is when a person’s reported physical activity did not meet Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (2014). Physical activity includes walking for fitness, recreation, or sport; walking to get to or from places; moderate exercise; and vigorous exercise (multiplied by 2) recorded in the week prior to interview. Guidelines vary by age.

  • For people aged 18-64: did not complete 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity (where vigorous activity is multiplied by 2) on 5 days or more per week.
  • For people aged 65 years and over: did not complete 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous intensity activity (where vigorous activity is multiplied by 2) on at least 5 days each week.

International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Conditions (ICD): The World Health Organization’s internationally accepted classification of diseases and related health conditions. The tenth revision (ICD-10) is used in Australia for recording the causes of death on a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. The Australian modification (ICD‑10‑AM) is currently used in Australian hospitals to record diagnoses and procedures for admitted patients.


life expectancy: The average number of years that a person at a particular age can be expected to live, assuming that age-specific mortality levels remain constant.


median: The middle number of a sorted list of numbers (either ascending or descending).

Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) data collection: The MBS data collection contains information on services that qualify for a benefit under the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Cwlth) and for which a claim has been processed. The database comprises information about MBS claims (including benefits paid), patients and service providers. MBS claims data are an administrative by-product of the Services Australia administration of the Medicare fee-for-service payment system.

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) lists the Medicare services subsidised by the Australian Government. The schedule is part of the wider Medicare Benefits Scheme (Medicare).

Medicare-subsidised services: Services listed in the Medicare Benefits Schedule that resulted in a payment of Medicare benefit.

mental health consumer: A person who accessed at least one Medicare Benefits Schedule  or Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme mental health services within a given period of time.

mental illness (or mental health disorder): A clinically diagnosable disorder that significantly interferes with an individual’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities. The term covers a spectrum of disorders that vary in severity and duration, including anxiety disorders, affective disorders (such as depression), psychotic disorders and substance use disorders.

metadata: Information about how data are defined, structured and represented. It makes data files meaningful by describing the information captured in data, and how it is measured and represented.

morbidity: The ill health of an individual, and levels of ill health in a population or group.

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

multimorbidity: The presence of 2 or more chronic diseases/conditions in a person at the same time. Compare with comorbidity.

musculoskeletal disorder/condition: One of a group of conditions, along with arthritis and other conditions, that affects the bones, muscles and joints. Other conditions include back problems, juvenile arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteopenia, osteoporosis (low bone density) and rheumatoid arthritis.


never smoked: A term that describes a person who had smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes or the equivalent tobacco in their lifetime.

non-fatal burden: The quantified impact on a population of ill health due to disease or injury. Measured as years lived with disability (YLD), which is also sometimes referred to as years of healthy life lost due to disability.

nowcast: A term to describe a forecast of statistics to the current year based on past trends and knowledge of current events.


oral health: The health of the mouth, tongue and oral cavity; the absence of active disease in the mouth.

outcome (health outcome): A health-related change due to a preventive or clinical intervention or service. (The intervention may be single or multiple, and the outcome may relate to a person, group or population, or be partly or wholly due to the intervention.)

overweight or obese: Based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey, overweight or obese is when a person’s body mass index (calculated by dividing the person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres) squared) was 25 or over (overweight) or 30 or over (obese).


Pap test: Papanicolaou test, a procedure to detect cancer and pre-cancerous conditions of the female genital tract.

permanent residential care (aged care): Care provided to a person in an Australian government-approved aged care home, including accommodation (bedding and other furnishings, meals, laundry, social activities), personal care (bathing, showering, toileting, dressing, eating, moving about), and nursing and allied health services if required. 

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS): A scheme through which the Australian Government subsidises the cost of a wide range of prescription medicines. Most prescriptions for General Schedule medicines (Section 85) are dispensed through community pharmacies, but the PBS is also available through eligible public hospitals to patients on discharge, and day patients. Several drugs are also distributed under alternative arrangements where these are considered more appropriate (Section 100).

population health: Typically, the organised response by society to protect and promote health, and to prevent illness, injury and disability. Population health activities generally focus on:

  • prevention, promotion and protection rather than on treatment
  • populations rather than on individuals
  • the factors and behaviours that cause illness.

It can also refer to the health of particular subpopulations, and comparisons of the health of different populations.

Population Health Areas (PHAs): A combination of whole Statistical Areas Level 2s (SA2s) and multiple aggregates of smaller SA2s. (A Statistical Area is a geographical classification defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics; there are 4 levels of Statistical Areas, Level 1 to 4, assigned according to increasing size and population.) This level of geography (a PHA) maintains much of the value of the SA2 geography, while ensuring that, by aggregating smaller population SA2s, relatively few areas need to have data suppressed. The Public Health Information Development Unit from Torrens University developed PHAs in collaboration with state and territory health agencies. PHA updates occur after each government Census, in line with changes to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard. For more information, see Population Health Areas.

potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPHs): Hospital separations for a specified range of conditions where hospitalisation is considered to be largely preventable if timely and adequate care had been provided through population health services, primary care and outpatient services. The PPH conditions are classified as vaccine preventable, chronic and acute. Respective examples include influenza and pneumonia, diabetes complications, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and dental and kidney conditions. The rate of PPHs is currently being used as an indicator of the effectiveness of a large part of the health system, other than hospital inpatient treatment.

prescription: An authorisation issued by a medical professional for a patient to be issued with a particular medication. 

prevalence: The number or proportion (of cases, instances, and so forth) in a population at a given time. For example, 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.

primary health care: Services delivered in many community settings, such as general practices, community health centres, Aboriginal health services and allied health practices (for example, physiotherapy, dietetic and chiropractic practices) and which come under numerous funding arrangements. 

Primary Health Networks (PHNs): Independent primary health care organisations that commission services and are operated by not-for-profit companies, informed by clinical councils and community advisory committees. They were established on 1 July 2015 by the then Department of Health.

principal diagnosis: The diagnosis established, after study, to be chiefly responsible for occasioning an episode of admitted-patient care. Diagnoses are recorded using the relevant edition of the International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification (ICD-10-AM).

projection: A term to describe a forecast of statistics into the future using past trends and assumptions about future events.

psychosocial: A term that describes involvement of both psychological and social factors.


remoteness classification: A classification that divides each state and territory into 5 classes of remoteness based on their relative accessibility to goods and services (such as to general practitioners, hospitals and specialist care) – as measured by road distance. These regions are defined as remoteness areas by the Australian Statistical Geography Standard in each Census year. The 5 Remoteness Areas are Major cities, Inner regional, Outer regional, Remote and Very remote. See also rural.

respite care: An alternative care arrangement for dependent people living in the community, which give people – or their carers – a short break from their usual care arrangements.

rural: A term that describes geographic areas outside urban areas, such as towns and cities. In this report, ‘rural and remote’ encompasses all areas outside Australia’s Major cities according to the remoteness classification of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard. In many instances, the term ‘rural and remote’ is used interchangeably with the term ‘regional and remote’.


separation: The formal process by which an admitted patient completes an episode of care either by being discharged, dying, transferring to another hospital or by changing type of care.

seroprevalence surveys (serosurveys): surveys that estimate the percentage of a specific population that has been infected with a pathogen through serological testing. They can tell us about the total number of people who have been infected, including those infections that might have been missed.

socioeconomic areas: Areas defined according to the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage or the Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage. These indexes are is part of the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), a set of indexes created by the Australian Bureau of Statistics from Census data that aims to represent the socioeconomic position of Australian communities and reflect the overall or average level of disadvantage of the population in an area. The SEIFA does not show how individuals living in the same area differ from each other in their socioeconomic group.

syndromic surveillance system: Used to identify illness clusters before diagnoses are confirmed and reported to public health agencies, initiating a rapid response.


telehealth: Health services delivered using information and communication technologies, such as videoconferencing or through other communication technologies.

triage category: A category used in the emergency departments of hospitals to indicate the urgency of a patient’s need for medical and nursing care. Patients are triaged into 1 of 5 categories on the Australasian Triage Scale. The triage category is allocated by an experienced registered nurse or medical practitioner.


uncontrolled high blood pressure: Based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey, uncontrolled blood pressure is when a person’s measured systolic blood pressure was 140 mmHg or more, or diastolic blood pressure was 90 mmHg or more, whether or not the person was taking blood pressure medication.


vaccination: The process of administering a vaccine to a person to produce immunity against infection. See immunisation.

Vapes: refer to electronic cigarettes.


waiting time: The time between when a patient in an emergency department is triaged and when they are seen for medical assessment. A patient is seen on time if they receive care within this timeframe.

wellbeing: A state of health, happiness and contentment. It can also be described as judging life positively and feeling good. For public health purposes, physical wellbeing (for example, feeling very healthy and full of energy) is also viewed as critical to overall wellbeing. Because wellbeing is subjective, it is typically measured with self-reports, but objective indicators (such as household income, unemployment levels and neighbourhood crime) can also be used.


years lived with disability (YLD): A measure calculated as the prevalence of a condition, multiplied by a disability weight for that condition. YLD represent non-fatal burden. Sometimes referred to as years of healthy life lost due to disability (YLD).

years of life lost (YLL): For each new case, years of life lost equals the number of years between premature death and the standard life expectancy for the individual.

younger onset dementia: Dementia that develops in people aged under 65.