This assessment item relates to the course learning outcomes 1 to 6.
1.Identify and discuss the importance and significance of the national and
international health priority areas and environmental issues in the health of
2.Demonstrate an understanding of the epidemiological methods used to measure
the health of populations, including health indicators for wellness and ill-health;
3.Demonstrate knowledge in statistics and apply that knowledge to health services
using an epidemiological model;
4.Recognise and discuss the importance and significance of the health indicators in
a population;
5.Analyse and interpret epidemiological investigations, discuss their quality and
design, and identify their relevance to a population; and
6.Demonstrate an informed professional approach to monitoring the health of
populations, including planning and undertaking epidemiology studies.


National Health Priority Areas (NHPAs) are diseases and conditions chosen for focused attention at a national level because of their significant contribution to the burden of illness and injury in the Australian community.

The eight NHPAs identified for particular attention are:
· Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions
· Asthma
· Cancer control
· Cardiovascular health
· Diabetes mellitus
· Injury prevention and control
· Mental health
· Obesity.

The NHPA initiative, established in 1996, is a program emphasising collaborative action between Commonwealth and State and Territory government, non-government organisations, health experts, clinicians and consumers, for specific diseases and conditions. The initiative recognises that the strategies for reducing the burden of illness should be luralistic, encompassing the continuum of care from prevention through to
treatment, management and maintenance, and based on appropriate research and data sources. The initiative is overseen by the National Health Priority Action Council (NHPAC).

By targeting specific areas that impose high social and financial costs on Australian society, collaborative action can achieve significant and cost-effective advances in improving the health status of Australians. The diseases and conditions targeted under the NHPA initiative were chosen because through appropriate and focused attention significant gains in the health of Australia s population can be achieved. (AIHW, 2011,

In your future professional roles you will be dealing with these priority areas often at an individual level. You may be nursing patients with cancer or who have suffered falls, you may be working to address workplace injuries or bullying, or you may be working in the community as a diabetes educator or in a screening program. You may even be working in developing policies for an organization or government department to address these areas. Health priority areas can be addressed at many different levels across many sectors of health from clinical treatment through to primary and secondary prevention.


From one of the National Health Priority Areas, choose a disease or injury, then choose one of the following perspectives for addressing that disease or injury in Australia:
Modifying policy
Modifying the physical environment
Modifying individual behavior

For example, you may choose mental health as the NHPA and look at a behavioural intervention to address post-natal depression, you may choose a particular type of workplace injury and look at a change to the physical environment that may reduce the incidence, or you may choose obesity and look at a policy response like banning free toys with children s meals at fast food restaurants.

Utilising your chosen perspective, compile a report to:

1. Outline the impact of one of the disease or injury on population health by quantitatively describing the impact on the population as a whole and the differential impact on particular groups within the population over the lifespan or across geographical locations. (Make use of charts and/or tables as necessary in order to illustrate your point).

2. Based on your perspective, identify a target group (the population at risk of that disease or injury) and outline an intervention which might be used to address that issue in your local community.

3. Provide a clear statement of the purpose of the intervention and how effective it may be (providing evidence from peer reviewed research literature).

4. Discuss how your chosen intervention would best be trialed / piloted to ascertain the impact on injury of your target population (You will need to discuss study design, sample selection, data collection methods etc).

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011, Health Priority Areas, viewed 24 October,

Where do you get some ideas from?
News about population health and especially items relating to the NPHAs are commonly reported in the media. I gave some examples of recent topics above. Please remember at all times with preparing your report, that no matter how well written a news item is, it is NOT peer reviewed research. Whilst it is acceptable to scan the media for issues that may be topical, those articles are ONLY A STARTING POINT. You need to go to the source of the information.

An example:
In the news in August there were a number of articles about the impact of watching TV on your life expectancy. The media picked up the story, and it was reported globally, with some great headlines like An hour of TV slashes lifespan by 22 minutes.
The story interests you, it relates to one of the NHPA because the article on the ABC website mentions cardiovascular disease, and you can think of some good interventions to reduce time spent watching TV.
What you need to do though is go and find where the research was published in a proper academic journal. In this example a number of the articles mention that it was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, so you would go online to the library website, and use the databases to search for a copy of the article, then you would read the article and go from there. There are a lot of differences between media reporting and the actual research literature, and these differences are important.
References to newspaper or online media articles or opinion pieces do not meet the requirements for this assignment, your evidence must come from peer reviewed research literature. So you can use news items for ideas, but you must go further with your research. Please note you can reference a news article to highlight the current interest, but it is not included in your count of journals used as evidence.
Some better sources:
AIHW is a great starting point and source of credible population level statistics and information on the impact of disease and injury. Grab a fresh cup of coffee, tea or water and spend a bit of time at the website, . The tabs at the top have a one saying Subjects and one saying Publications, either of these is a great starting point. The information and publications are easily found. For example, if you click on the Publications tab, on the right hand side of the screen you will see a box titled Browse Publications with a drop down menu, you will notice the list of topics are very closely related to the NPHA s and subjects of interest to you.
Publications have a wealth of information for the first part of your report. Take for example Asthma in Australia 2011, it includes data that describes the current status of asthma in Australia, including information about who gets asthma, how many die from asthma, and information about treatment.
In addition to the reports that are disease specific there are more general reports that may be of interest “ The Health of Australia s Males, if you are interested in a topic that particularly affects males, Young Australians: their health and wellbeing 2011, if you are interested in something that affects youth.

Other federal government agencies such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Department of Health and Aging websites are also great starting points.
State governments will also have a wealth of resources on their websites but a word of caution “ remember that your report must talk about the impact on the population as a whole “ that means the whole of Australia. Reports that are state focussed can complement national data, if for instance a particular disease or injury is more prevalent in a certain state, and after discussing the national impact and trends you then narrow down to your target population.

Don t forget the peak bodies “ Diabetes Australia, The Heart Foundation, Beyond Blue “ to name but a few. Another word of caution “ their reports are not peer reviewed literature “ the calculations and figures they may publish, unless they are verified or comparable to peer reviewed research or government publications, should be critically assessed. It is often worth doing a quick search to see if there was any response to those reports either positive or negative.

Communicates ideas clearly and
succinctly with no spelling or
grammatical errors (5%).

Professional presentation of report
utilising appropriate subheadings.
Includes an executive summary,
table of contents and all assessment
items are met (5%).

Clearly and comprehensively
outlines the population health
impact of injury in Australia (20%).

Selection of an appropriate
intervention and comprehensive
discussion regarding the purpose of
the intervention (20%).

Comprehensively details pilot
study including details of study
design, sample selection and data
collection methods (20%).

Refers to and critically evaluates an
extensive range of relevant
literature to support argument (≥ 10
peer reviewed sources) (20%)

Consistently integrates up-to-date
references to support and reflect all
ideas, factual information and
quotations (5%).

Consistently accurate with
referencing (5%).

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