Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/08/2013   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Introduction >> Structure of the Australian Health Survey

This document was added 12/13/2013.



STRUCTURE OF THE AUSTRALIAN HEALTH SURVEY

The Australian Health Survey (AHS) is the largest, most comprehensive health survey ever conducted in Australia. It combines the existing ABS National Health Survey (NHS) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) together with two new elements - a National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS) and a National Health Measures Survey (NHMS).

The new components were made possible by additional funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing as well as the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

The following diagram shows how the various elements combine to provide comprehensive health information for the overall Australian population. The content for each component survey is listed along with the age of respondents for which topics were collected.

STRUCTURE OF THE 2011-13 AUSTRALIAN HEALTH SURVEY


 Image: Graphic representation of the structure of the 2011-13 Australian Health Survey


As shown above, the AHS is made up of 3 components:
  • the National Health Survey (NHS)
  • the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS)
  • the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS).

All people selected in the AHS were selected in either the NHS or the NNPAS, however data items in the core were common to both surveys and therefore information for these data items is available for all persons in the AHS. All people aged 5 years and over were then invited to participate in the voluntary NHMS.

As indicated in the diagram, around 20,500 people participated in the NHS, answering questions about items such as detailed health conditions, health risk factors and medications as well as all items in the core content. For the NHS component (those items collected only in the NHS and not the core), the sample size is similar to that of previous National Health Surveys and therefore the results are comparable. However for those items collected in the core, the sample size (32,000 people - results for which were published in Australian Health Survey: Updated Results, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.003) on 7 June 2013) is approximately 1.5 times that in the past and therefore the estimates for core items such as smoking and Body Mass Index are more accurate, particularly at finer disaggregations, than in previous surveys.

See Release schedule for a timetable of product releases from the Australian Health Survey.

Background to the National Health Survey

The 2011-12 National Health Survey was conducted between 6 March 2011 and 17 March 2012. It was the sixth in a series of regular population surveys designed to obtain national benchmark information on a range of health-related issues and to enable the monitoring of trends in health over time.

Previous surveys in the series were conducted in 1989-90, 1995, 2001, 2004-05 and 2007-08. Health surveys conducted by the ABS in 1977-78 and 1983, while not part of the NHS series, also collected similar information. In addition, a range of other ABS surveys on health and related issues have been conducted at the national level and for individual states and territories.

The NHS was conducted in around 15,500 private dwellings selected throughout non-Very Remote areas of Australia. The sample was designed to ensure that within each state or territory, each person had an equal chance of selection and that reliable estimates could be produced for each state and territory. Information was obtained about one adult and one child aged 0-17 years in each selected household. A total of approximately 20,500 persons participated in the survey.

Trained ABS interviewers conducted a face-to-face interview with the selected adult member of the household. Parental consent to interview persons aged 15-17 years was sought, however some parents preferred to answer survey questions on their behalf. A parent or guardian was asked to answer questions on behalf of all children aged less than 15 years. This person is referred to as the child proxy throughout this publication, and in other outputs from the survey.

The survey focused on the health status of Australians and health-related aspects of their lifestyles. Information was collected about respondents' long-term health conditions, consultations with health professionals, and other actions recently taken in regard to their health (e.g. days away from work and medication use). Information was also collected on lifestyle factors which may affect health, such as tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, usual fruit and vegetable intake, exercise and physical measurements (height and weight used to calculate Body Mass Index, waist circumference and blood pressure).

A pilot test of the NHS was conducted in New South Wales and Western Australia in May/June 2010.

First results from the NHS were published in Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001), released on 29 October 2012. The second phase of results were published in Australian Health Survey: Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.002), released on 26 March 2013.

Background to the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey

The 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey was conducted between 29 May 2011 and 9 June 2012. This survey was designed to obtain detailed national benchmark information on nutrition and physical activity.

The last National Nutrition Survey was conducted in 1995 as a joint project between the ABS and then Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services. Since then, the only nationally representative nutrition data has been from 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (which included children aged 2 to 16 years), conducted principally by the CSIRO and the University of South Australia.

The NNPAS was conducted in 9,500 private dwellings selected throughout non-Very Remote areas of Australia. The sample was designed to ensure that within each state or territory, each person had an equal chance of selection and that reliable estimates could be produced for each state and territory. Information was obtained about one adult and one child aged 2-17 years in each selected household. It was not possible for a person to be selected in both the NHS and NNPAS.

Trained ABS interviewers conducted a face-to-face interview with the selected adult member of the household. Parental consent to interview persons aged 15-17 years was sought, however some parents preferred to answer survey questions on their behalf. A parent or guardian was asked to answer questions on behalf of all children aged less than 15 years. This person is referred to as the child proxy throughout this publication, and in other outputs from the survey. Where possible, the child was requested to be present for the interviews, particularly for the physical activity, 24 hour dietary recall and physical measurements.

Information was collected about respondents' usual fruit and vegetable intake, current diets, food avoidance, tobacco smoking, physical measurements (height and weight used to calculate Body Mass Index, waist circumference and blood pressure), detailed nutrition through a 24 hour dietary recall, selected medical conditions, food security and sedentary behaviour and physical activity, including pedometer use.

A pilot test of NNPAS was conducted in New South Wales and Western Australia in May/June 2010 and a dress rehearsal was conducted in Victoria in January 2011.

First results from the NNPAS were published in Australian Health Survey: Physical Activity, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.004), released on 19 July 2013. Nutrition data will be published in May 2014.

Background to the National Health Measures Survey

In 2011–13, the AHS incorporated the first biomedical collection, the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS). It involved the collection of a range of blood and urine tests from over 11,000 participants aged 5 years and over across Australia.

First results from this collection for biomarkers of chronic disease, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, were published in Australian Health Survey: Biomedical Results for Chronic Diseases, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.005) on 5 August 2013. Results for nutrient biomarkers, including iron, folate, iodine and vitamin B12, were published in Australian Health Survey: Biomedical Results for Nutrients, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.006), released on 11 December 2013. Results for vitamin D were added to the Nutrients publication on 15 April 2014.

Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The AHS also includes an additional representative sample of around 12,300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which was collected between April 2012 and July 2013. This is a separate collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote and non-remote areas, including discrete communities. The structure is the same as outlined above, comprised of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) component, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS) component and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey (NATSIHMS) component.

This Users' Guide publication does not include information on these surveys. For further information on the AATSIHS, see Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2012-13 (cat. no. 4727.0.55.002).

First results for the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population using NATSIHS data were published in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia, 2012-13, released on 27 November 2013.

User consultations

A number of advisory groups were established to assist the ABS in determining content of the Australian Health Survey and advise on data output requirements. These groups included representatives from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, state/territory health authorities and academic and research centres. Reports on the development, testing and proposed outputs from the survey were prepared for consideration by these groups, and distributed to other interested organisations and individuals on request.

The range of topics and items within topics identified for possible inclusion in the survey exceeded the capacity of the survey. With the assistance of the advisory groups, these were assessed and relative priorities were established. Topics ultimately selected for inclusion in the survey were those identified as being of highest priority and which could be appropriately addressed in an ABS household survey of this type.

New topics proposed for inclusion underwent cognitive testing to ensure the concepts were understood by respondents, and to enable questions and associated procedures to be refined.

Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.