Australian Bureau of Statistics
4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/08/2013
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This document was added 12/13/2013.
All selected households were initially approached by mail (the 'primary approach letter'), informing them of their selection in the survey and advising that an interviewer would visit to arrange a suitable time to conduct the survey interview. This was not possible for a small number of households for which ABS did not have an adequate postal address. A brochure providing background to the survey, information concerning the interview process and information regarding confidentiality provisions under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 were included with the primary approach letter.
General characteristics of the household were obtained from any responsible adult (ARA) member of the household. This information included the number and basic demographic characteristics of usual residents of the dwelling, and the relationships between those people (e.g. spouse, son/daughter, not related). The ARA was also asked to nominate the person in the household who was best able to provide information about children in the household.
From the information about the composition of the household, those persons in scope of the survey were determined, and, on a random basis, one adult and one child (where applicable) were selected for inclusion in the survey.
If the dwelling contained only usual residents aged under 18 years, no further information was collected from that household.
If the dwelling contained more than fifteen usual residents, all of whom were in scope, then whether there was more than one family group living in the dwelling was determined. Each family group was then treated as a separate household.
A personal interview was conducted with the selected adult (where possible), and an adult was asked to respond on behalf of the selected child aged under 15 years (see below for further details regarding children involved in answering some questions in the NNPAS interview). In some instances, adult respondents were unable to answer for themselves due to significant long-term illness or disability. In these cases, a person responsible for them was interviewed on their behalf, provided the interviewer was assured that this was acceptable to the selected person. Where possible, the respondent was still present during the interview and physical measurements were taken where appropriate. If the respondent was not able to be present for the interview certain questions were not asked and the biomedical component (NHMS) was not offered.
In limited circumstances where there were language difficulties, other persons in the household may have acted as an interpreter if this was suggested by the respondent. If not, arrangements were made where possible for the interview to be conducted either by an ABS interviewer fluent in the respondent’s own language, or with an ABS interpreter.
Where permission was granted by a parent or guardian, children aged 15-17 years were interviewed in person. If permission was not granted, questions were answered by an adult, who may or may not have been the selected adult respondent in the household. The person answering on behalf of the 15-17 year old is referred to as the Child Proxy. Whether a child proxy was used for an interview is available as a data item. There are also data items available identifying parent presence or proxy use at other stages of the survey, including Healthy lifestyles (NHS only), Alcohol (NHS only) and Smoking.
To obtain a personal interview with appropriate respondents, interviewers made appointments as necessary with the household. In some cases appointments were made by telephone, however all interviews were conducted face-to-face, with the exception of the second interviews for NNPAS which were conducted by telephone using CATI. Interviews may have been conducted in private or in the presence of other household members according to the wishes of the respondent.
Interviews were conducted on Sundays only when specifically requested by a respondent. Although it is desirable to spread interviews across all days of the week, interviews were conducted on days that suited respondents.
For the NNPAS, child involvement in the survey was encouraged, in particular for the physical activity modules and the 24 hour dietary recall. The following principles were applied where practical:
At the end of the physical activity module and 24 hour dietary recall, interviewers were asked to identify the involvement of the child (aged 6 years and over) with these modules and are available as data items.
The 2011-12 NHS and NNPAS utilised Computer Assisted Interview (CAI) instruments to collect the data.
The CAI instrument allows:
The questionnaires were field tested to ensure:
The questionnaires employed a number of different approaches for recording information at the interview.
To ensure consistency of approach, interviewers were instructed to ask the interview questions exactly as written. In certain areas of the questionnaire however, interviewers were asked to use indirect and neutral prompts at their discretion, where the response given was, for example, inappropriate to the question asked or lacked sufficient detail necessary for classification and coding. This occurred particularly in relation to type of medical condition where interviewers were asked to prompt for a condition if a treatment or symptom was initially reported.
The questionnaires were designed to be administered using standard ABS procedures for conducting population interview surveys, with regard to the particular aims of the survey and the individual topics within it, and the methodological issues associated with those topics. Other factors considered in designing the questionnaires included the length of individual questions, the use of easily understood words and concepts, the number of subjects and overall length of the questionnaires, and the sensitivity of topics. Where appropriate, previous ABS questions on the topics covered were adopted.
National Health Survey
The questionnaire used for the 2011-12 NHS was based on the 2007-08 NHS, modified as appropriate to incorporate new and changed survey content. Information collected included:
National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey
The questionnaire used for the 2011-12 NNPAS comprised multiple approaches to collection. The NNPAS questionnaire was generally based on the 2011-12 NHS. Information collected from the primary questionnaire included:
In addition to the primary questionnaire, additional collection methods and instruments were developed to support special requirements for components of the survey.
National Health Measures Survey
The 2011-12 National Health Measures Survey (NHMS) involved respondents volunteering to provide blood and/or urine samples for analysis.
The interview components of the NHS and NNPAS were conducted under the Census and Statistics Act (CSA) 1905. Ethics approval was sought and gained (for the NHMS component only) from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing’s Departmental Ethics Committee.
At the completion of NHS or NNPAS questions, interviewers explained the voluntary Biomedical component and provided a written Information Sheet. Only selected respondents aged 5 years and above were in scope and for children aged 5–11 only urine samples were requested. Respondents were determined to be out of scope of the NHMS in proxy interviews where the situation was deemed appropriate to use a proxy for the adult interview and the respondent was not present. A copy of the adult and the child Information sheet can be found on the Downloads tab of this Users' Guide.
Informed consent was sought from adults and from parents/legal guardians of children through completion of a consent form. A copy of the consent form was left with the respondent. Those that agreed to take part were provided a Referral Form to complete (including whether specific medications or supplements were regularly taken) to provide to the collection centre. A copy of the referral form used can be found on the Downloads tab of this Users' Guide.
Pathology tests conducted in the NHMS included markers of chronic disease such as blood sugar levels, cholesterol and kidney function, markers of nutritional status, as well as markers of exposure to chemicals such as nicotine.
Specific information on the content, collection methodology, quality assurance of the biomedical component are provided in more detail in the Biomedical Measures chapter of this Users' Guide.
This page last updated 12 December 2013
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