The Australian Health and Social Science (AHSS) project is a study of Australian adults initiated and funded by the Institute for Health and Social Science Research (IHSSR) at CQUniversity Australia. The project aims to examine the unique issues affecting Australians now and into the future through targeted and regular research using a specially selected national group (panel) of participants. This panel provides regular input (via the completion of web-based surveys) on key issues such as physiological and psychological wellbeing, activity levels, nutrition, behavioural risk factors and social and economic wellbeing. The group also participates in research addressing range of contemporary issues relevant to understanding Australian people's quality of life.
The AHSS project was designed to enable researchers to examine factors that influence health and wellbeing among Australian adults who are broadly representative of the wider population.
A key facility for research is the Institute's Population Research Laboratory (PRL). The PRL conducts high quality social surveys using advanced social research methods including computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) and web-based surveys. The PRL has a diversified portfolio of research projects that it has undertaken for university and non-university based researchers to enable decision making in both the public and private sectors. The capacity for quantitative data collection housed within the PRL complements the qualitative research and policy analysis capacity of Iers.
The AHSS panel is a group of people who are willing to participate in research by undertaking surveys; who become familiar with data collection protocols; and who have provided sufficient background data to screen for more specific sub-samples. Panel members do not need to have any special skill or knowledge to be involved in the project, the group is made up of a mixture of every day Australian adults.
In medicine and the social sciences, panel studies are often referred to as cohort or prospective studies as they aim to investigate specific theoretical constructs through the respondent's life-course. Equally, however, panels may be recruited with the aim of streamlining subsequent studies across a more diverse range of topics by providing researchers with willing and interested respondents. The AHSS Study panel is made up of a random sample of Australian adults living in each Australian state and territory, recruited via computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). Households were randomly selected and willing respondents were then provided with further information about the AHSS study via a website link. Members of the panel were asked to provide basic sociodemographic data (employment, education, etc) and answer brief questions about behavioural risk factors (smoking, alcohol, diet, exercise) and emotional and physical well-being