Cervical screening data 2012-2013

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Quality Statement
METeOR identifier:569669
Registration status:AIHW Data Quality Statements, Archived 01/07/2016

Data quality

Quality statement summary:

Summary of Key Issues
 All states and territories maintain a population-based cervical cytology register (also referred to as ’Pap test registers’ or ‘Pap smear registers’) to which all cervical cytology, histology, and human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA tests are reported.
• State and territory cervical cytology registers were established to support the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) that commenced in 1991.
• The AIHW compiles cervical screening data using aggregate data supplied from state and territory cervical cytology registers in order to monitor the NCSP annually.
• Some duplication may occur where the same test is reported to the cervical cytology data in two or more jurisdictions.  AIHW is unable to identify or resolve these instances, and the level of duplication is unknown, but believed to be small.
• Cervical cytology register databases change every day, adding new records and improving the quality of existing records as new information becomes available.



All states and territories have legislation that requires pathology laboratories to send all cervical tests to the relevant state or territory population-based cervical cytology register.

Cervical screening programs in each state and territory interrogate their own cervical cytology register in accordance with detailed data specifications to supply aggregate data annually to the AIHW. These data are compiled into the only repository of national cervical screening data, although because these are aggregate and not unit record data, these data do not exist in a database per se, and cannot be interrogated further.

Any Pap test performed in Australia, unless the woman has opted-off, will be included in NCSP data. This means that NCSP data is a virtually complete repository of all cervical screening performed in Australia.

Institutional environment:

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government under the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987 to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare. It is an independent statutory authority established in 1987, governed by a management Board, and accountable to the Australian Parliament through the Health and Ageing portfolio.
The AIHW aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians through better health and welfare information and statistics. It collects and reports information on a wide range of topics and issues, ranging from health and welfare expenditure, hospitals, disease and injury, and mental health, to ageing, homelessness, disability and child protection.
The Institute also plays a role in developing and maintaining national metadata standards. This work contributes to improving the quality and consistency of national health and welfare statistics. The Institute works closely with governments and non-government organisations to achieve greater adherence to these standards in administrative data collections to promote national consistency and comparability of data and reporting.
One of the main functions of the AIHW is to work with the states and territories to improve the quality of administrative data and, where possible, to compile national datasets based on data from each jurisdiction, to analyse these datasets and disseminate information and statistics.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987, in conjunction with compliance to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), ensures that the data collections managed by the AIHW are kept securely and under the strictest conditions with respect to privacy and confidentiality.
For further information see the AIHW website www.aihw.gov.au.
The AIHW has been receiving cervical screening data since 1989.


Cervical cytology data are available within about 6 months (there can be a lag of up to 6 months in the transmission of test results from pathology laboratories to cervical cytology registers), and data for the previous calendar year are supplied in July each year (rescreening and correlation data lag behind, as the specifications for these require a specified period of time to pass before this can be accurately calculated).
The current cervical screening data are for cervical cytology and histology tests performed in 2012 and 2013.


Cervical screening data are published annually in the report Cervical screening in Australia, available on the AIHW website http://www.aihw.gov.au/cervical-cancer-screening/where they can be downloaded without charge. Supplementary data tables that provide more detailed data are also provided to accompany each report, and these, too, are available on the AIHW website where they can be downloaded without charge.
General enquiries about AIHW publications can be made to the Communications, Media and Marketing Unit on (02) 6244 1032 or via email to info@aihw.gov.au.



While many concepts in the report Cervical screening in Australia are easy to interpret, other concepts and statistical calculations are more complex. All concepts are explained within the body of the report presenting these data, along with footnotes to provide further details and caveats. Appendix C provides additional detail on the data sources and classifications, and Appendix E provides details on the statistical methods used.


Cervical screening data are highly relevant for monitoring trends in cervical screening participation and abnormality detection trends. The data are used for many purposes by policy-makers and researchers, but are supplied and analysed specifically to monitor and inform the NCSP.


All data provided by state and territory cervical screening programs, once analysed, are supplied back for verification.
Further, National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council (NPAAC) Performance Measures for Australian Laboratories Reporting Cervical Cytology exist which allow some cervical screening data compiled and reported by the AIHW to be compared to data that are also sourced from state and territory cervical cytology registers for a different purpose.


Cervical screening data are reported and published annually by the AIHW. Changes in reporting practices over time are clearly noted throughout the reports.

Data products

Implementation start date:02/06/2014

Relational attributes

Related metadata references:

Supersedes Cervical screening data 2011-2012 AIHW Data Quality Statements, Archived 01/07/2016

Has been superseded by Cervical screening data 2013–2014; Quality Statement AIHW Data Quality Statements, Archived 01/07/2016