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OVERVIEW OF THE AUSTRALIAN HEALTH SURVEY

PURPOSE OF THE SURVEY

The 2011-13 Australian Health Survey (AHS) will provide an important source of health data for the Australian population for use in health monitoring, surveillance and evaluation activities. For the first time, comprehensive information on risk factors for chronic disease will be collected. This information will include data on self-reported diet, physical activity and smoking, and measured indicators of chronic disease, such as obesity, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as some indicators of nutrition status, such as iron and vitamin D levels.

In broad terms the AHS is intended to assist:

  • Governments and researchers- to monitor trends and patterns in health, including emerging issues, identifying subpopulations ‘at risk’ of ill health, developing health projections, and undertaking evaluation of interventions;
  • Governments- to target health services and programs to appropriate population subgroups, to decide on policies and programs to promote health and wellbeing and prevent illness, as well as assessing current policies;
  • Researchers and academics- to examine how lifestyle patterns are related to our health, and to inform research into making Australians healthier and live longer, more productive lives;
  • Food regulators- to better understand what the population is eating, to inform food standards and protect the safety of the food supply;
  • Health professionals- to put in place health, nutrition and physical activity programs that will inform the public about healthier lifestyle choices; and
  • Clinicians, the public, non-government health organisations and media- to better understand health issues and their impact on society.

BROAD STRUCTURE OF THE SURVEY

The AHS will collect information from around 47,000 Australians (including children through to adults) across Australia (urban, regional and remote locations). It will be conducted in two parts:
  • A survey of the general population (around 34,000 respondents) commenced in March 2011 and will be completed in June 2012; and
  • A survey of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population (around 13,000 respondents), which commenced in April 2012 and will be completed in June 2013.
The general approach and content for each survey population is similar and is outlined for the general population in Diagram 1. The content of the AHS includes components that equate to previous National Health Surveys (NHS) and the 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) conducted by the ABS. In addition components have been added that focus on topics such as nutrition, physical activity, and biomedical measures (the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, and the National Health Measures Survey).

DIAGRAM 1: OPERATIONAL MODEL FOR AUSTRALIAN HEALTH SURVEY - GENERAL POPULATION*




*The operational model for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wave of the AHS follows a similar structure.
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