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1345.4 - SA Stats, Nov 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/11/2006   
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HEALTH OF SOUTH AUSTRALIANS - HEALTH-RELATED ACTIONS

This article presents data from the latest National Health Survey (NHS), as conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) from August 2004 to June 2005. Similar surveys were conducted in 1977-78, 1983, 1989-90, 1995 and 2001.

This article focuses on the health-related actions of people living in South Australia (SA) in 2004-05. A Health of South Australians - Health Status article on the population's health status was presented in SA Stats, May 2006 and a Health of South Australians - Health Risk Behaviours article on factors that may impact on the population's health was presented in SA Stats, August 2006. A future article will provide further details of the population's body mass index (BMI). In these articles, South Australian estimates are compared with those for Australia, the other states of Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Separate estimates for the Northern Territory are not available but the data are included in (the aggregate) estimates for Australia.

In the 2004-05 NHS, data were collected from people living in private dwellings in urban and rural areas of Australia; excluded were people in hospitals, nursing homes and other non-private dwellings. Of all the states and territories, SA had the oldest population in scope of the survey with just over 14% of the population aged 65 years and over, followed by Tasmania at just under 14%. By comparison, 12% of Australia's population in scope of the survey was aged 65 years and over. The older age structures in SA and Tasmania may impact on the health estimates for their populations.

For the 2001 survey, some published data (comparing the states and the ACT) were age standardised. The estimates were adjusted to account for differences in age structures of populations and to enable 'real' comparisons of health characteristics. However, results published from the 2004-05 NHS have not been age standardised. To maintain consistency and comparability, original (non-standardised) data from the 2001 survey (which differ from published age-standardised data) have been used in this article.

Further information on the latest NHS can be obtained from the publication 'National Health Survey, Summary of Results, Australia, 2004-05' (cat. no. 4364.0) and the Microsoft Excel tables in 'National Health Survey, Summary of Results: State Tables, 2004-05' (cat. no. 4362.0).


HEALTH-RELATED ACTIONS

National Health Surveys have collected information about actions people have recently taken for their health. Actions covered included hospital stays, consultations with health professionals, days away from work, private health insurance cover, hysterectomies and hormone replacement therapy. The following information about health-related actions relate to the two weeks prior to interview.

In 2004-05 one fifth (20%) of the South Australian population living in private dwellings consulted a general practitioner (GP), 5% consulted a specialist, 7% consulted a dentist and 14% consulted other health professionals (OHPs). Other health professionals included chemists (consulted by 3% of the South Australian population), chiropractors (3%), physiotherapists and hydrotherapists (3%) and nurses (1%).

The following graph shows that older people were more likely to visit GPs and specialists; however, the percentages of persons consulting OHPs in the age groups of 25-44 years, 45-64 years and 65 years and over were the same at 17%.

CONSULTATIONS WITH HEALTH PROFESSIONALS BY AGE GROUP,
South Australia, 2004-05
Graph 1: Consultations with Health Professionals by age group, SA, 2004-05
Source: National Health Survey, Summary of Results: State Tables, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4362.0)


In 2004-05, South Australians in households in the lowest household income quintile were twice as likely to consult a GP or specialist than those in the highest household income quintile (34% of persons compared with 17% of persons). However, the differences for consultations with dentists (6% of persons aged 2 years and over in the lowest household income quintile compared with 7% in the highest quintile) and with OHPs (17% of persons in the lowest household income quintile compared with 15% in the highest quintile) were not statistically significant.

Similar to SA, one-fifth (20%) of the Australian population consulted a GP. In the other states and the ACT, consultations with a GP ranged from 17% in the ACT to 21% in Tasmania. The differences between the other states, the ACT and Australia were small for other consultations: of the other states and the ACT populations, consultations with a specialist ranged from 5% to 6%, consultations with a dentist ranged from 5% to 7% (of persons aged 2 years and over) and consultations with OHPs ranged from 12% to 14%.

In both 2001 and 2004-05, 1% of South Australians living in private dwellings had been discharged from a stay in hospital, 1% had visited a casualty or emergency unit at a hospital and 2% had visited a day clinic. These percentages were the same at the national level. For both surveys, 3% of South Australians visited an outpatients department, this was statistically significantly higher than the national proportion of 2%.


DAYS AWAY FROM WORK

In 2004-05, of the employed South Australians aged 15-64 years, 11% reported that they had one or more days away from work in the previous two weeks due to their own illness or injury. This was not statistically significantly higher than the 10% of employed Australians aged 15-64 years. The percentage of employed persons who had days away from work to care for another person who was ill in the previous two weeks was 3% in South Australia, which was statistically significantly lower than the national percentage of 4%.

In SA, a higher percentage of women had days away from work due to their own illness or injury (13%) compared with men (9%).

The following graph shows that employed South Australians in the 25-34 and 35-44 year age groups had higher percentages of persons reporting days off to care for another person who was ill than those in the 15-24, 45-54 and 55-64 year age groups. On the face of it, the graph below appears to show a large difference when comparing the proportion of 15-24 year olds who had days away from work for their own illness or injury, with the proportion for 55-64 year olds. This difference, however, is not statistically significant given the design of the survey.

EMPLOYED PERSONS WHO HAD DAYS AWAY FROM WORK(a),
South Australia, 2004-05
Graph 2: Employed persons who had days away from work(a), SA, 2004-05
Source: National Health Survey, Summary of Results: State Tables, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4362.0)


WOMEN'S HEALTH

In 2004-05, 18% of South Australian women aged 18 years or more reported that they had had a hysterectomy, which was statistically significantly above the national percentage of 14%. Only Tasmania had a higher rate of hysterectomies than SA at 21%; the other states and the ACT had rates ranging from 12% to 15%.

The following graph shows that SA and Tasmania had higher rates of hysterectomy recorded for women aged 65 years or more but there were smaller differences in rates of hysterectomy for women in the younger age groups.

WOMEN AGED 18 YEARS OR MORE WHO HAVE HAD HYSTERECTOMIES, 2004-05
Graph 3: Women aged 18 years or more who have had hysterectomies, 2004-05
Source: National Health Survey, Summary of Results: State Tables, 2004-05 (cat. no.4362.0)


In 2004-05, one-fifth (20%) of South Australian women aged 45-64 years were currently using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) which had been prescribed by a doctor. This is statistically significantly higher than the Australian percentage of 13%. Use of HRT by women aged 45-64 years in the other states and the ACT ranged from 10% in Victoria to 18% in the ACT.

Use of HRT by women aged 65 years and over was 10% in SA compared with 8% in Australia.


PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE

In 2004-05, 55% of South Australians aged 15 years and over had private health insurance. This was statistically significantly higher than the national rate of cover of 51%. Cover in the other states and the ACT ranged from 47% in Queensland to 60% in the ACT.

In SA, 44% of the population had both hospital and ancillary cover, 5% had hospital cover only and 6% had ancillary cover only.

Across all states and the ACT, persons aged 45-64 years had the highest rates of private health insurance. In SA, 69% of this age group had cover, statistically significantly higher than the national rate of 61%.

The following graph shows that the 15-24, 25-44 and 65 years and over age groups in SA had cover rates of 48% to 50%, all of which are slightly (but not statistically significantly) higher than the comparative national rates.

PERSONS WITH PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE BY AGE GROUP,
South Australia and Australia, 2004-05
Graph 4: Persons with private health insurance by age group, SA and Australia, 2004-05
Source: National Health Survey, Summary of Results: State Tables, 2004-05 (cat. no.4362.0)


'Security, protection or peace of mind' was the most common group of reasons for having private health insurance (43% of those insured in SA and 42% in Australia) followed by 'shorter wait for treatment or concern over public hospital waiting lists' (24% in SA, 23% in Australia). 'Cannot afford it or too expensive' was the most common group of reasons for not insuring (66% of those without private health insurance in SA and 64% in Australia).

In SA, proportionally fewer persons whose main language spoken at home was not English had cover (27%) than those whose main language at home was English (57%). Persons in households in the lowest household income quintile were less likely to have private health insurance (32% of persons) than those in the highest household income quintile (84% of persons).


REFERENCES

National Health Survey: Summary of Results, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4364.0)
National Health Survey, Summary of Results: State Tables, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4362.0)
The companion data to National Health Survey: Summary of Results, 2001 (cat. no. 4364.0).

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