Summary

This project investigates the geographic distribution of health risk indicators (e.g. at risk BMI, HbA1c or serum cholesterol levels) in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions of NSW. The study utilises a large, longitudinal, community-derived database of geographic, demographic and biological data concerning adult residents in the study area collected by Southern.IML Pathology in routine practice. Under strict ethical and privacy controls, the data are geographically coded, de-identified and analysed using geographic and spatial research methods.

The study is unique in its near-census coverage of adult residents in the study area, its longitudinal nature (2004 onwards), inclusion of anthropometric data and availability of small-area geographic identifiers for spatial analysis.

Initial results from the pilot phase of the project, which investigated the distribution of BMI in health service users in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven, were presented at the national Primary Health Care Research Conference Canberra in 2014. This project provides new data on health risk indicators and patterns to inform health programs and health-related infrastructure at a community level.

Specific research questions in the initial phases are:

  • Do BMI, serum lipids, fasting BSL, HbA1c and eGFR health risk indicators cluster in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions after adjusting for socio-demographic factors?
  • Are BMI, serum lipids, fasting BSL, HbA1c and eGFR health risk indicators associated with proximity to, and density of, primary care health services in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven after adjusting for socio-demographic factors?
  • Do these health risk indicators, before and after adjustment for socio-demographic factors, change over time?

Funding body

Southern.IML Pathology

Scheme name

In-kind

Years funded

2013 – 

Lead institution

University of Wollongong