4343.0 - Survey of Health Care, Australia, 2016 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/09/2017  First Issue
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The 2016 Survey of Health Care (SHC) collected information from people aged 45 years and over who had visited a general practitioner (GP) at least once in the 12 months prior to the selection of the sample. The SHC was a voluntary self-enumerated paper form survey designed to collect information about:

  • how well health care is coordinated in different parts of our country
  • variations in the quality of health care in different areas
  • how to provide better health care for all.

Detailed information on the following topics was collected:
  • GP services
  • Usual place of care
  • Specialist doctors
  • Medications
  • Tests, x-rays and scans
  • Emergency department (ED)
  • Hospital
  • Physical health
  • Emotional or psychological health
  • Long-term conditions
  • General demographic information

Information from the SHC will be used by a wide range of public and private sector agencies, in particular the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and will provide the community with information on how their health care system is performing. It will show whether people are getting the right care at the right place and at the right time.

The data items available in this release can be found in the Data Item List in the Downloads tab.


This is the first iteration of the SHC. The SHC was collected from April to June 2016 and data is released approximately one year after enumeration.


The SHC was designed to provide reliable estimates at the national level and at the Primary Health Network (PHN) level.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) randomly selected persons aged 45 years and over and who had seen a GP in the last 12 months prior to the selection of the sample from the Medicare Australia Enrolment Database. The SHC was a voluntary self-enumerated paper based survey where the survey and associated engagement materials were mailed out to the respondent by the DHS on behalf of the ABS. The sample of the SHC was 123,979 persons and 35,495 persons responded, giving a response rate of 29%. Data from the SHC were compared against data from other statistical collections. This is a usual practice, undertaken in order to verify that the estimates produced are broadly representative of the population in scope. While there are some differences between the sample distribution from the Survey of Health Care and the known population distribution by age, sex, SEIFA and PHN, these have been taken into account by the weighting process. For more information see the Explanatory Notes for a comparison between the SHC, the Patient Experience Survey 2015-16 and the National Health Survey 2014-15.

Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. Sampling error is the error associated with taking a sample of people rather than going to all people in the target population. In this publication the sampling error is measured by the relative standard error (RSE), the standard error expressed as a percentage of the estimate. Non-sampling errors can occur in any data collection, whether based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include non-response bias, errors in reporting by respondents and errors in coding or processing of data. Every effort is made to reduce the non–sampling error by careful design and testing of questions, follow-up of respondents and extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing. As with all collections, non-response bias is assumed to exist in this collection, however, it is not possible to quantify the impact.

Estimates and RSEs in this publication have been assessed to ensure the confidentiality of those individuals and dwellings contributing to the survey. A technique has been developed to randomly adjust each estimate prior to publication, based on the mathematical method of perturbation. These adjustments result in estimates being affected by a small introduced random error, sufficient to ensure the un-weighted units counted within the estimate remain confidential. In most cases, perturbation will have only a small impact on the estimate, while ensuring the information value of the published data as a whole is not impaired.


Due to differences in collection methods and question wording, health data collected in the SHC may not be comparable with data from other ABS health surveys, such as the Patient Experience Survey, the Australian Health Survey, and the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers.

Also, due to differences in the legislative environment and the way health care is delivered and paid for in other countries, the SHC may not be comparable to data from international collections, such as the New Zealand Patient Experience Survey and the Statistics Canada: Experiences with Primary Health Care 2008 survey.


This publication contains tables and a summary of findings to assist with the interpretation of the results of the survey. Detailed Explanatory notes, a Technical note on Data Quality and a Glossary are also included providing information on the terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.


The tables contained in the downloads tab of this publication are available on the ABS website, in spreadsheet format. The spreadsheet also presents relative standard errors (RSEs) relating to estimates and Margins of Error for proportions for each publication table.

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070, or email client.services@abs.gov.au. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.