PHDA 01 - Working with Administrative Data

"The courses I found to be of greatest benefit to me and my work were PHDA-01 (Working with Administrative Data) and PHDA-05 (Longitudinal Analysis and Multi-level Modeling of Population Health Data). These courses provided practical skills that I find I apply regularly to my job, and made me much more comfortable with using data analytic programs like SAS."

Sarah Costa, Health Economist, Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control, BC Cancer Agency


"I found Working with Administrative Data (PHDA01) very helpful to my work as a researcher associate at the Centre for Addictions Research of BC. The course covered a wide range of topics from ethical and privacy issues encountered when using administrative data for research to data management of complex datasets. The instructors took the time to ensure all students were able to do the assignments using SAS, helping me to build skills that I now often use at work. The training datasets were useful in building applied skills when using administrative data to answer research questions.  I would recommend this course for anyone who is working in public health and uses administrative data in their job."

Research Associate, Centre for Addictions Research of BC

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Next course delivery: September 2020

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 PSC in Population Health Data Analysis or permission of the Faculty Advisor.


Instructor: Kim Nuernberger

Kim Nuernberger is a Senior Analyst for the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). She brings to this course more than 10 years of experience as a health data analyst, much of it working with large administrative health data sets. Her experience spans a broad range of health service issues covering the life course and representing everything from contraception to the provision and delivery of appropriate long-term care services. A strong advocate of lifelong learning, Kim completed a Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Victoria in 2005 and solidified her skills in health research through completion of the Professional Specialization Certificate in Population Health Data Analysis. Most recently she has been involved in a collaborative project involving researchers based at the University of Victoria and the Fraser Health Authority examining patterns and predictors of long-term care use through administrative and clinical data. This project has involved extensive use of SAS and other statistical software to link anonymized data sets and employ a wide variety of statistical techniques.


This course is offered in partnership with the Division of Continuing Studies and Department of Geography at the University of Victoria.

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Page last revised: June 8, 2020