PHDA 01 - Working with Administrative Data

Next course delivery: September to December 2023

> Your Data: Do you know its value to the health and well-being of society?

Course description

This course examines the basics of what administrative data are:

  • where they come from
  • how they can be used for research
  • what the data produced for research projects look like
  • the skills needed to work with them
  • basic statistical analysis of these data

This course also provides an overview of ethics and privacy issues related to research uses of administrative data.

Learning objectives

  • Articulate privacy issues and protections as they relate to the analysis of administrative health data for research purposes.   
  • Articulate a clear and "research-ready" research question appropriate to administrative health data.
  • Create a data dictionary.
  • Create an analytic data set—with one record per person—from administrative data.
  • Navigate within and use Population Data BC's Secure Research Environment.
  • Use SAS statistical software both for data management and for (relatively simple) data analysis.
  • Write methodology that supports reproducibility of the analyses undertaken.
  • Present findings showing policy relevance of your research.


  • Admission to the Professional Specialization Certificate (PSC) in Population Health Data Analysis or permission of the Faculty Advisor
  • SAS statistical software will be introduced in this course. If you would like to start pre-course SAS orientation before enrollment in this course, please contact Melissa Payne, PHDA Program Assistant, UVic Continuing Studies for further consultation at:

Instructor: Alvin Li

Alvin LiAlvin Li is currently a Scientist for Alberta Health Services. He has over 10 years of research experience and has conducted multiple projects using large health administrative datasets on various topics including COVID-19, cancer prevention, kidney transplantation, immigrant health and the evaluation of health policies. He completed his PhD in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Western University where his doctoral research focused on epidemiological studies on organ and tissue donation. Subsequently, he conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Ottawa Health Research Institute where his research project focused on evaluating an intervention promoting donor registration in family physician offices using a stepped-wedge, cluster randomized controlled registry trial design. He has a strong interest in teaching and has also taught lessons on data analytics.


UVic logoThis program has been developed by Population Data BC in partnership with the Division of Continuing Studies, University of Victoria.

For further details, visit the Division of Continuing Studies webpage.

Course overview

Watch this video for an introduction to the PHDA course.