4727.0.55.002 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2012-13  
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Contents >> Introduction >> Structure of the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey

STRUCTURE OF THE AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER HEALTH SURVEY

The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS) collects information from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population as part of the Australian Health Survey. It combines the existing ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) together with two new elements - a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS) and a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey (NATSIHMS).

The new components were made possible by additional funding from the Australian Government Department of Health 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. The content for each component survey is listed along with the age of respondents for which topics were collected.




As shown above, the AATSIHS is made up of three components:
  • the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS)
  • the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS)
  • the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey (NATSIHMS).

All people selected in the AATSIHS were selected in either the NATSIHS or the NATSINPAS, 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 AATSIHS. All people aged 18 years and over were then invited to participate in the voluntary NATSIHMS.

The success of the 2012-13 AATSIHS was dependent on the very high level of cooperation received from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and their communities. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander statistics published or planned by the ABS would not be possible.

As indicated in the diagram, around 9,300 people participated in the NATSIHS, answering questions about items such as detailed health conditions and health risk factors as well as all items in the Core content. For the NATSIHS component (those items collected only in the NATSIHS and not the Core), the sample size is 1,000 persons less than that of the previous National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, however, the results are considered comparable. For those items collected in the Core, the sample size (12,900 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 2 years and over – results for which were published in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Updated Results, 2012-13 (cat. no. 4727.0.55.006) on 6 June 2014) is approximately 1.2 times that in the past and therefore the estimates for Core items such as smoking and Body Mass Index will be more accurate, particularly at finer disaggregations, than in previous surveys.

See Release schedule for a timetable of product releases from the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey.

Background to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey

The 2012-13 NATSIHS was conducted between April 2012 and February 2013. This survey was designed to obtain national benchmark information on a range of health-related issues and to enable the monitoring of trends in the health of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over time. It is part of the Australian Health Survey collection as well as the ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander household survey program, which includes a six yearly National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS). Both the NATSIHS and the NATSISS collections contain some common elements in regard to health, education, employment and income so that trends in important Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues can be monitored more frequently over time.

Previous surveys in the ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander household survey program include:
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 (cat. no. 4714.0)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4715.0)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2002 (cat. no. 4714.0)
National Health Survey: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 4715.0)


The NATSIHS was conducted in over 5,000 private dwellings selected in remote and non-remote areas throughout Australia, including discrete communities. The sample was designed to provide reliable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander estimates for the whole of Australia, for state and territory, for the Torres Strait, and for remote and non-remote areas to a similar level of accuracy to NATSIHS 2004-05. Information was obtained in non-remote areas for up to two adults and/or up to two children aged 0-17 years in each selected household, while in remote areas up to one adult and/or up to one child aged 0-17 years were selected. A total of approximately 9,300 persons participated in the survey.

Trained ABS interviewers conducted a face-to-face interview with an 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 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 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, substance use, usual fruit and vegetable intake, exercise and physical measurements (height and weight used to calculate Body Mass Index, waist and hip circumference as well as blood pressure).

A pilot test of the NATSIHS was conducted in New South Wales and Western Australia in February 2011. A dress rehearsal was conducted in Queensland in October/November 2011.

First results from the NATSIHS were published in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results 2012-13 (cat. no. 4727.0.55.001), released on 27 November 2013.

Background to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey

The 2012-13 NATSINPAS was conducted between August 2012 and July 2013. This survey was designed to obtain detailed national benchmark information on nutrition and physical activity. This detailed information has never before been collected for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

The NATSINPAS was conducted in over 2,800 private dwellings selected in remote and non-remote areas throughout Australia, including discrete communities. The sample was designed to ensure reliable national estimates could be produced for remote and non-remote areas. Information was obtained for up to one adult and/or up to one child aged 2-17 years in each selected household. It was not possible for a person to be selected in both the NATSIHS and NATSINPAS. A total of approximately 4,100 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. 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, tobacco smoking, physical measurements (height and weight used to calculate Body Mass Index, waist and hip 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 (in non-remote areas).

A pilot test of NATSINPAS was conducted in New South Wales in February/March 2011 and a dress rehearsal was conducted in Queensland in March/April 2012 for the non-remote survey. A pilot test was conducted in Western Australia in October/November 2011 and a dress rehearsal was conducted in Queensland in March/April 2012 for the remote survey.

First results from the NATSINPAS were published in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Physical Activity, 2012-13 (cat. no. 4727.0.55.004), released on 5 December 2014. First results of Nutrition data from the NATSINPAS were published in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Nutrition Results – Food and Nutrients, 2012-13 (cat. no. 4727.0.55.005), released on 20 March 2015.

Background to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey

In 2012–13, the AATSIHS incorporated the first biomedical collection to be undertaken for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in an ABS survey, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey (NATSIHMS). It involved the collection of a range of blood and urine tests from approximately 3,300 participants aged 18 years and over across Australia.

First results from this collection for biomarkers of chronic disease (such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease) and nutrients (such as vitamin D, iron and iodine) were published in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Biomedical Results, 2012-13 (cat. no. 4727.0.55.003), released on 10 September 2014.

User consultations

A number of advisory groups were established to assist the ABS in determining the content of the AATSIHS and advise on data output requirements. These groups included representatives from the Australian Government Department of Health, 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.

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