Indigenous Health Survey (National)

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


    The Indigenous Health Survey (IHS) is part of a series of surveys run in conjunction with the National Health Survey (a triennial collection), to collect information about the health status of Indigenous Australians, their use of health services and facilities, and health related aspects of their lifestyle. Initially the IHS will be conducted in conjunction with the first two National Health Surveys in 2001 & 2004, and every 6 years thereafter.


    The aim of the survey is to obtain national benchmark information on a range of health issues to enable comparisons between the health characteristics of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and to allow trends in the health of Indigenous Australians to be monitored over time.


    Scope: all geographic areas are included within the scope of the survey. The questionnaire used in sparsely settled areas has a reduced content and in some cases modified question wording to collect data of the best quality possible. Only persons in private dwellings are within scope of the survey.

    Coverage: due to limitations in the sample frame for sparsely settled (remote) areas, coverage of people living in sparsely settled areas only includes those who reside in discrete Indigenous communities. In addition, Indigenous children can only be selected in the survey if they live in the same household as one or more Indigenous persons aged 18 years or over. These exclusions are considered relatively minor and people in these areas will be represented in survey results.


    Conceptual framework

    Not applicable

    Main outputs

    The content for the 2001 Indigenous Health Survey is in common with that collected in the National Health Survey (NHS) to allow comparability with non-Indigenous data. The NHS covers 5 main areas:

    • Indicators of health status (self-assessed health status, health transition, quality of life scale, K10 scale to indicate psychological distress, long-term conditions focussing in particular on asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular and cancer), and injuries
    • Health-related actions taken (visits to hospitals and day clinics, consultations with doctors, dentists and other health professionals, use of medications (for national health priority area conditions only), days away from work and other days of reduced activity).
    • Health risk factors (smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, exercise, body mass, sun protection, breastfeeding, immunisation),
    • Supplementary women's health items (breast and cervical cancer screening practices, contraceptive/protective behaviours, Hormone Replacement Therapy, breastfeeding history), and
    • Demographic and socio-economic characteristics (standard range of items, plus Indigenous status, private health insurance and housing).

    The content for Indigenous Health Survey (IHS) has been restricted to items that are culturally appropriate for the Indigenous population and will provide acceptable data quality. For these reasons the content for the non-sparsely settled (urban/remote) and sparsely (remote) settled component of the IHS is a subset of that collected in the NHS.

    Non-sparse(urban/rural) content

    For the non-sparsely settled (urban/rural) component the only exclusion from the NHS content is the Kessler 10 scale to indicate psychological distress. These questions were excluded from the Indigenous survey due to concerns raised by key Indigenous advisory groups about the culturally appropriateness of the Kessler 10 for measuring the mental health of Indigenous persons.

    Sparsely settled (remote) content

    The content for the sparsely settled component will be a subset (approximately 50%) of that collected in the NHS. The sparsely settled content is confined to those items for which acceptable data quality levels can be achieved.

    Person level estimates will be produced describing the prevalence of various Indigenous health characteristics in 2001.

    Standard outputs will be person level estimates only.

    Results from the survey will be available in the publication 2001 National Health Survey: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results, Australia (4806.0).

    Special tables, compiled to individual user specifications, will also be available on request.


    ABS standard classifications were used for items describing standard demographic, socio-economic, education, labour force, housing and other characteristics.

    The main NHS specific classifications used were:

    The classification of medical conditions. Three ABS developed classifications of conditions will be available for use in data output:

    • a classification based on the 9th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases, similar to that used in the 1995 National Health Survey.
    • a classification based on the 10th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases, and
    • a classification based on the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC)

    The classification of medication types, based on the WHO Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification (ATCC), modified for use in this survey.

    Details of the classifications will be contained in 2001 National Health Survey: Users Guide (ABS Cat No 4364.0) which is scheduled to be released in September 2002.

    Other concepts (summary)

    1. National & State/Territory\1.01 Australia
    2. Parts of State\2.11 Section of State (SOS)
    2. Parts of State\2.12 Other Geographic Areas\2.12.13 Other

    Comments and/or Other Regions

    In addition to those marked above, output will be available for broad national regions ( such as sparsely settled areas/non-sparsely settled areas). Broad regions based on the Australian Standard Geographic Classification (ASGC) Remoteness Structure Areas may also be available (based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) methodology).

    6 Yearly

    Frequency comments

    The 2001 Indigenous health survey will be the first in a series of collections to provide information on Indigenous health over the next 10 years. It will build on past ABS surveys that have provided Indigenous health information, such as the 1995 National Health Survey (NHS) and the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey. The 2001 Indigenous health survey will comprise of a supplementary sample of approximately 2,800 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and children (in addition to the 500 to 600 expected to be enumerated in the NHS sample) to allow reliable national statistics on Indigenous health to be produced. This will be followed by a larger Indigenous sample of up to 11,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for the 2004 NHS which will support estimates at the State/Territory and national levels. Thereafter, Indigenous supplementation of the NHS is planned to occur every 6 years, in parallel with every second NHS.


    1995 National Health Survey: Indigenous estimates were produced from this collection based on a sample of approximately 1,800 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in urban/rural areas of Australia. Information collected from Indigenous people living in remote areas were excluded due to concerns about data quality.


    Data availability comments

    Results from the survey will be available from October 2002.

    06/06/2002 12:07 PM