Process for Developing and Reviewing Case Definitions

This page contains the process for developing and reviewing case definitions.

Page last updated: 20 April 2018

The Case Definitions Working Group (CDWG) was convened in 2001 by the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) to develop and review a suite of case definitions for all nationally notifiable diseases for reporting to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). Once endorsed by the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA), the case definitions are published in the Communicable Disease Intelligence and on the Health website.

Endorsed by CDNA: 21 February 2018.

Process for developing and reviewing case definitions

  1. The Case Definitions Working Group (CDWG) should conduct routine review of case definitions at their own discretion.
  2. Other requests for developing new or revising existing surveillance case definitions must come via the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA), who delegate the development or review of a case definition to CDWG. There may be exceptional circumstances where CDNA requires a case definition to be developed or revised without the involvement of CDWG, generally in the context of a rapid response to an emerging infectious disease threat (e.g. MERS-CoV or Ebola virus disease).
  3. CDWG identifies a member who will lead the revision of the case definition.
  4. This person will:
    1. identify changes to be made to the surveillance case definition in line with the rationale for review;
    2. ensure alignment with the laboratory case definition or identify any inconsistencies for discussion;
    3. consult with the PHLN representative on CDWG, or the relevant custodian of the laboratory case definition as identified by the PHLN representative;
    4. consider other guidance and literature including the CDNA SoNG (if any) and international case definitions;
    5. list each of the changes and provide an explanation and evidence in an agenda paper using a template provided by the CDWG secretariat; and
    6. submit the case definition and agenda paper to CDWG via the secretariat for distribution.
  1. The case definition should be considered by CDWG, either in a meeting or out of session.
  2. CDWG members should consult within their jurisdictions including their CDNA representative and with any other expert groups that are relevant to the disease.
  3. If not endorsed, the lead member will address any feedback received and present the revised case definition together with a summary of the changes to the group for further consideration and endorsement. This can be done out of session if appropriate.
    • Note: If a final consensus and endorsement cannot be reached by CDWG, the lead will prepare a paper for CDNA summarising the issues and/or the options agreed by the group. The PHLN representative for the surveillance case definition will assess whether these options need to be considered by PHLN prior to going to CDNA.
  4. Once agreed by CDWG, the case definition should be provided to PHLN for their consideration and endorsement. The consultation period will be approximately two weeks. During this time PHLN should consult relevant laboratory stakeholders and inform CDWG if there are other groups that the case definition should be sent to for information, once finalised.
  5. If PHLN raises any issues, the lead will revise the case definition accordingly. This will be provided to CDWG for re-consideration or noting, as appropriate, through the Secretariat.
  6. Following endorsement by CDWG and PHLN, the lead will draft a CDNA out-of-session paper to accompany the revised or proposed new case definition. The CDWG Secretariat will submit the documentation to CDNA for consideration and endorsement.
  7. CDNA can endorse the case definition, provide minor suggestions that the lead can incorporate, or not endorse and refer the case definition back to CDWG.
  8. Once the case definition is endorsed by CDNA, the CDWG secretariat will organise for it to be published in Communicable Disease Intelligence and on the Health website, with implementation to proceed from an agreed date – usually on the closest date of 1 January or 1 July. Once published online, the secretariat will notify PHLN, NSC, CDWG and CDNA.
  9. State and Territory central disease control units are responsible for communication and implementation of revised or new case definitions within their jurisdictions. If there are any variations in date of implementation or content of an agreed national case definition at a jurisdictional level, national surveillance counterparts should be advised, so that this information can be considered in the context of interpreting national data.

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