4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/06/2013   
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Contents >> Health conditions >> Diabetes mellitus

This document was added or updated on 13/12/2013.



This topic refers primarily to those ever told by a doctor or nurse they have diabetes mellitus or high sugar levels in their blood or urine.

All types reported were recorded for the item 'whether ever told by a doctor or nurse':

  • diabetes - type 1
  • diabetes - type 2
  • diabetes - gestational
  • diabetes - insipidus
  • diabetes - type unknown
  • high sugar levels.

More than one response was allowed.

For respondents who reported they currently had any type of diabetes, their condition was assumed to be of six months or more duration, with the exception of gestational diabetes (which is assumed to be short-term) and high sugar levels (which has an additional question to determine whether it was long-term). Those reporting only diabetes insipidus were recorded as a current, long-term condition and coded under other endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases. References to diabetes refer to diabetes mellitus only.

Estimates in all ABS publications exclude gestational diabetes and diabetes insipidus.

In addition to self report data for diabetes, information on diabetes was also collected from the NHMS. For more details on this biomedical component, see the Biomedical Measures chapter of this Users' Guide.


Information was obtained for all persons in the NHS and for persons aged 2 years and over in the NNPAS.


Information about diabetes and high sugar levels was collected in both the NHS and the NNPAS surveys. Information on diabetes was first published in the First Results publication based on the NHS only sample of approximately 20,500 people of all ages. Updated results on diabetes for the larger combined, core sample of approximately 32,000 people aged 2 years and over was published in the Updated Results publication. For comparison of diabetes with NHS only items or the 0-1 year old population, the NHS file should be used and similarly for comparison with NNPAS only items, the NNPAS file should be used. However, for the most accurate information for diabetes alone or comparison with other items collected in the core, the core file should be used. For more information on the structure of the AHS, see the Structure of the Australian Health Survey page of this Users' Guide.

In the AHS, diabetes/high sugar level conditions are classified into one of the following condition status categories:

1. ever told has condition, still current and long-term
2. ever told has condition, still current but not long-term
3. ever told has condition, not current
4. not known if ever told or not ever told, but condition current and long-term (available NHS file only)

The methodology used to calculate diabetes varies between AHS outputs as different condition categories were used to calculate the estimates.

For the 2011-12 AHS First Release, estimates of diabetes included all respondents with condition statuses 1 and 4 only (note in 2011-12 no diabetes condition was reported with condition status 4), that is included all people with current and long-term diabetes. This methodology was the same one that was used to calculate estimates for the 2007-08 NHS.

In the Updated Results, definition was changed to include condition status 3, changing the definition to consider all people to have long-term diabetes regardless of whether they considered it current or not. This change aligns the ABS definition with other prominent sources of diabetes data.

Respondents were asked if they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they had diabetes and/or high sugar levels in blood or urine.

All respondents, regardless of whether they reported having diabetes, were then asked whether their parents and/or siblings had been told by a doctor or nurse that they had diabetes. This new question has been included in the AHS to assist with the calculations of diabetes risk using the Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool (AUSDRISK).

Those respondents who reported they had been told they had diabetes or high sugar levels were asked the age at which they were told they had diabetes/high sugar levels, and the type of diabetes they were told they had. Persons were then asked whether the diabetes or high sugar level was still current. Those reporting only diabetes insipidus were sequenced out of further diabetes questions at this point.

Respondents reporting current diabetes are assumed to have long-term diabetes, with the exception of gestational diabetes which is considered to be short-term If the respondent reported they currently had high sugar levels they were asked if their condition had lasted, or was expected to last, for six months or more.

NHS respondents aged 50 years and over who identified that they had not been diagnosed with diabetes or high sugar levels, and respondents of any age who identified that they had not been diagnosed with diabetes or high sugar levels but had current long-term heart or circulatory conditions, were asked whether they had been screened for diabetes in the last 3 years.

NHS respondents who had current/long-term diabetes or high sugar levels, or current gestational diabetes were asked:

  • how often in the last 12 months did they or someone else test their blood glucose levels
  • how often in the last 12 months did they or someone else check their feet
  • whether they were currently taking insulin every day and, if so, the age at which they began taking insulin and the brand of insulin that they take
  • whether they had changed their eating pattern or diet because of diabetes/high sugar levels, and whether they were still following a change of diet
  • whether they had taken any other actions including:
      • losing weight
      • exercising most days
      • taking vitamins, supplements or herbal treatments
  • whether they had a HbA1c test in the last 12 months.

NHS respondents were then sequenced to the Actions module where they were asked questions about the number of times they had seen a GP, specialist, etc. for their diabetes/high sugar levels.

NHS respondents were asked in a later module about all medications and health supplements that they were taking, but not in relation to any specific condition. This differs from the 2007-08 survey where questions about medication were asked within the diabetes/high sugar level module.

Data items

The data items and related output categories for this topic are available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.


Points to be considered in interpreting data for this topic include the following:
  • Because this is a household-based survey, those people with diabetes resident in hospitals, nursing or convalescent homes, or similar accommodation are outside the scope of this survey. As a result, the survey will under-represent those with more severe complications of the condition.
  • Gestational diabetes (ICD-10 detailed codes 754 and 949) is not considered a long-term condition and therefore is not counted in the estimates for diabetes or NHS Actions data. However, it does contribute towards NHS Diabetes module-specific data.

Comparability with 2007-08

Data for most common items are considered directly comparable between the 2011-12 and 2007-08 surveys.

Estimates produced in the Updated Results includes condition statuses 1 and 3 and is therefore not comparable with previous NHS surveys.

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