Affordable housing: Affordable housing is social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined by local incomes and local house prices. From April 2012 affordable housing is defined in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Allied health professionals: Health care professionals other than doctors
and nurses. Includes groups such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists etc. (also known as professions allied to medicine)

All Age, All Cause, All Mortality (AAACM): A summary measure of mortality used to check the health of the population and reduce inequalities.

Baseline: The situation before the introduction of any treatment used as a comparison with the ‘after’ period, so that the effects of any treatment can be observed.

BME: Black and Minority Ethnic Groups.

BMI or Body Mass Index: BMI is a measure of weight status that adjusts for height and is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms, by the square of their height in metres. There are other measures of weight and the risk associated with weight and levels of body fat, such as waist circumference and skinfold thickness tests, but BMI is the most widely used. To calculate your own BMI, use the NHS Choices BMI calculator

Clinical effectiveness: How well a drug, treatment or package of care works.

Clinician: A health care professional providing patient care, eg a doctor, nurse or physiotherapist.

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs): Responsible for the commissioning of local health and care services in England from April 2013 (following the dissolution of PCTs)

Cochrane Library: The Cochrane Library is a regularly updated collection of evidence-based medicine databases including the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (reviews of randomised controlled trials prepared by the Cochrane Collaboration).

Commissioning: Process in which health services and local authority agencies identify local needs for services and assess them against available public, private and voluntary sector funding. Priorities are decided and services are purchased from the most appropriate providers through contracts and service agreements. As part of the commissioning process, services should be subject to regular evaluation.

Cost-effectiveness: A specific health care treatment is said to be 'cost-effective' if it gives a greater health gain than could be achieved by using the resources in other ways, in other words, it provides good value for money.

Cost-benefit analysis: A type of economic evaluation where both costs and benefits of health care treatment are measured in the same monetary units. If benefits exceed costs, the evaluation would recommend providing the treatment.

Confidence Intervals (CI): confidence intervals give an idea about how accurate a value really is. Wide confidence intervals indicate a lack of certainty, whereas narrow confidence intervals indicate more precise estimates. It is most commonly expressed as two values with ‘CI 95%’ shown after them, which means we are 95% confident that the true effect lies within the two values.

Confounding factor: Something that introduces uncertainty and bias into an observed outcome, complicating interpretation.

Correlation: A statistical measure which tells us how associated or related different variables are to each other.

Database: An accumulation of information that has been systematically organised for easy access and analysis, for example in Access.

Demographics: The statistical characteristics of human populations such as age, race, ethnicity, and sex.

Deprivation: Regions or areas characterised by significantly higher levels of unemployment and lower rates of income per head compared with the national average by the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD)

Determinants of health: The wide range of personal, social, economic and environmental factors which determine the health status of people or communities. They include health behaviours and lifestyles, income, education, employment, working conditions, access to health services, housing and living conditions and the wider general environment.

Directly Standardised Rates (DSR): The overall rate that would occur in a standard population age-structure if it experiences the age-specific rates of the observed population.

Disability Free Life Expectancy (DFLE): The number of years an individual can expect to live free from a limiting chronic illness or disability.

Effectiveness: The extent to which a specific treatment or intervention, when used under usual or everyday conditions, does what it is intended to do, eg control or cure an illness.

Elective: Non-urgent clinical procedures. Non-elective procedures are those which are unplanned, so emergency treatment is non-elective for example.

Epidemic: A disease that spreads rapidly through a segment of the human population, such as everyone in a given geographic area

Epidemiology: The study of the distribution and determinants of health and disease and applying this knowledge to the prevention and control of health issues.

Evaluation: Assessing if an intervention (for example a treatment, service, project, or programme) achieves its aims. The results of evaluations can help in decision-making and in planning future policies. Process evaluation is an ongoing examination of the intervention from its conception to its delivery and includes staff performance, methods, activities, effectiveness and efficiency. Outcome evaluation is an assessment of the immediate or midterm effects of an intervention or some aspect of an intervention.

Evidence based: The process of systematically finding, appraising, and using research findings as the basis for clinical decisions.

Freedom of Information (FOI): The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act was passed on 30 November 2000 and gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities. The intention of the Act is to encourage a spirit of openness and transparency in the NHS and to let the public see how we organise and deliver our services and NHS Wirral fully support this aim. For further details please refer to NHS Wirral’s FOI policy.

Health Needs Assessment: A systematic method for reviewing the health and wellbeing needs of a population. Usually conducted so that organisations can agree commissioning priorities that will improve the health and wellbeing outcomes and reduce inequalities in their populations.

Health Equity Audit: a systematic process for reviewing inequalities in the causes of ill health and access to effective services for a defined population. The outcome should be to ensure that findings result in actions to reduce inequalities that are agreed and incorporated into policy, plans and practice.

Health inequalities: The gap in health status and in access to health services, between different social classes and ethnic groups, and between populations in different geographical areas. For more information, see IMD below or the Department of Health website:

Incidence: The number of new cases of a disease that occur in a specified population during a specified time period.

Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD): The Index of Multiple Deprivation takes a number of factors covering a range of health, economic, social and housing issues and combines them into a single deprivation score for each small area in England. This allows areas to be ranked according to their level of deprivation. The Indices of Deprivation was calculated in 1999, 2002, 2004 and most recently in 2007.

Indirectly Standardised Rates: The ratio of the observed number of events that would be expected if age-specific rates were applied to the particular population’s age structure. A common example is the standardised mortality ratio (SMR).

Intervention: Health care action intended to benefit the patient, eg prescription drugs, surgical procedures, psychological therapy etc.

Local Area Agreements (LAAs): were action plans for achieving better outcomes, developed by councils with their partners (usually health partners in local strategic partnerships (LSP). They are now defunct.

Life expectancy: the average length of life of individuals in a population.

Lower Super Output Area (LSOA): There are 32,482 Lower Super Output Area’s in the country, each LSOA equates to roughly around 1,500 people. There are 207 LSOA’s in Wirral.

Low income: This is defined within the 2001 Census as a household with below 60% of median disposable income. In 2002/03, 17% of the population lived in households with income below this level (£194 per week).

Mortality rate: The ratio of the total number of deaths to the total population.

Mosaic: Mosaic is a geo-demographic population classification tool which can be used to segment the population according to the type of neighbourhood in which they live. It is constructed from a range of data sources including the Census, consumer behaviour and lifestyle factors and is a useful tool for gaining more in-depth insight into the behaviour and beliefs of the population. Mosaic segments the population into 11 Groups and 61 Types, based on postcode.

National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP): measures the height and weights of all English school children at Reception and Year 6. The programme started in 2006/07.

National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE): NICE is a special health authority responsible for providing patients, health professionals and the public with authoritative, robust and reliable guidance on current ‘best practice’.

Obesity: Adults are classified as obese if they have a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. BMI is a measure of weight status that takes a persons height into account  (see BMI in this Glossary for more on how BMI is calculated). To calculate your own BMI, check out this BMI calculator tool

Objectives: What you plan to do with your proposed program within the given period

Open-ended questions: Questions in an interview or survey format that allow respondents to answer as they choose, rather than having to select predefined alternatives

P value: P values tell us whether an effect can be regarded as statistically significant or not.  Usually, where the P-value is below 0.05 (i.e. less than 5% chance that the result is just due to chance) the result is seen as statistically significant. Where the value of P is 0.001 or less, the result is seen as highly significant.

Overweight: Adults are classified as overweight if they have a body mass index (BMI) of over between 25 and 29.9. BMI is a measure of weight status that takes a persons height into account (see BMI in this Glossary for more on how BMI is calculated). To calculate your own BMI, check out this BMI calculator tool

Pilot (test/programme/project): A ‘trial run’ on a small scale to assess the appropriateness and practicability of the test/programme/project. For example, testing (piloting) a new questionnaire with people who are similar to the population of the study, in order to highlight any problems or areas of concern, which can then be addressed before the full-scale study begins.

Population projections: Calculations which estimate potential future population figures, based on current and previous population figures.

Prevalence: The total number of persons living with a specific disease or condition.

Primary care: Health care delivered to patients outside hospitals. Primary care covers a range of services provided by GPs, nurses and other health care professionals, dentists, pharmacists and opticians.

Primary Care Trusts: PCTs managed the provision of primary health and care services in England from 2002 until their abolition on 31st March 2013. They were  replaced by CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) on 1st April 2013.

Probability: How likely an event is to occur, eg how likely a treatment or intervention will alleviate a symptom.

Public Service Agreement (PSA): Public Service Agreements were Government's priorities. Now defunct.

Qualitative data: Data presented in narrative form, such as the information collected from focus groups or key informant interviews.

Qualitative research: Qualitative research is used to explore and understand people's beliefs, experiences, attitudes, behaviour and interactions. It generates non-numerical data, e.g. a patient's description of their pain rather than a measure of pain. In health care, qualitative techniques (such as focus groups and in depth interviews) are commonly used in research documenting the experience of chronic illness and in studies about the functioning of organisations.

Quality adjusted life years (QALYS): A measure of health outcome which looks at both length of life and quality of life. QALYS are calculated by estimating the years of life remaining for a patient following a particular care pathway and weighting each year with a quality of life score (on a zero to one scale). One QALY is equal to one year of life in perfect health, or two years at 50% health, and so on. For example, QALY’s are helpful to organisations such as NICE when they are deciding whether new treatments are clinically and cost-effective.

Quantitative research: Research that generates numerical data or data that can be converted into numbers, for example clinical trials or the national Census which counts people and households.

Relative Risk (RR): The ratio of two risks, usually the risk of a disease in a group of individuals exposed to some factor, divided by the risk in unexposed individuals.

Representative: This means that a sample is similar to the population from which it was drawn, and therefore can be used to draw conclusions about that population.

Sample: A group of subjects selected from a total population with the expectation that studying the group will provide important information about the total population.

Secondary care: Care provided in hospitals.

Social marketing: The use of marketing principles and techniques for the social good. For example, by attempting to influence a target audience to voluntarily accept, reject, modify or abandon a behaviour for the benefit of themselves and/or society as a whole.

Surveillance: The ongoing and systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data about health, disease or health conditions.

Synthetic Estimates: Used when ‘real’ data is unavailable or when national surveys (such as the Health Survey for England) is too small to provide reliable estimates, synthetic estimates are calculated using statistical modelling techniques.

Systematic Review: Literature review which tries to identify, appraise, select and synthesise all high quality research evidence relevant to the question. Systematic reviews are generally regarded as the highest level of medical evidence by evidence-based medicine professionals.

Standardised Mortality Rate or Ratio (SMR): A ratio of the observed number of deaths in a population, relative to the expected number of deaths in that population. It is calculated by dividing the observed number of deaths by the expected number of deaths for Wirral. Ratios above 100 indicate that the number of events observed was greater than expected, whilst ratios below 100 that it was lower (England average is always 100). SMRs are also known as indirectly standardised rates.

Standardised registration ratios (SRRs): allow areas to be compared, with the registration rates for England being taken as standards. If a regional cancer incidence rate is high compared with the national rate, then the observed incidence for that region will be higher than the expected incidence and the SRR will be greater than 100. If a regional cancer incidence rate is lower than the national rate, then the SRR will be lower than 100. However, these SRRs should be interpreted with caution because it is difficult to separate the effect of variation in levels of ascertainment of  cases by the cancer registries from genuine geographical differences in incidence. However, it is recognised that there are generally higher levels of deprivation in the north of England than in the south (Communities and Local Government, 2011) and increased incidence rates of many cancers has been associated with higher levels of deprivation (National Cancer Intelligence Network, 2008, Shack, Jordon, Thomson et al, 2008). 

Target populations: Groups of people who are to be reached through some action or intervention. Groups are often defined based on a combination of characteristics such as race or ethnicity, age, gender, risk factor/behaviour, and geographic location.

Validity: The extent to which a survey question or other measurement instrument actually measures what it is supposed to measure; for example, a question that asks young adults how often they use a condom is valid if it accurately measures their actual level of condom use.

Variable: A characteristic of finding that can change or vary among different people or in the same person over time; for example, race or ethnicity varies among individuals, and income varies for the same individual over time.

Well-being: A concept combining an individual’s health, their quality of life, and their satisfaction.