4364.0 - National Health Survey: Summary of Results, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/10/2002   
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The definitions used in this survey are not necessarily identical to those used for similar items in other collections. Additional information about the items and their definitions are contained in the 2001 National Health Survey; Users' Guide, available from December 2002.

Actions taken

Refers to one or more of the following actions taken, in relation to the respondent's own health, in the 2 weeks prior to interview:

  • Discharge from a stay in hospital as an admitted patient
  • Visit to casualty/emergency department at hospital
  • Visit to outpatients department at hospital
  • Visit to day clinic
  • Consultation with general practitioner (GP) or specialist
  • Dental consultation
  • Consultation with other health professional (OHP):see below
  • Days away from work or school/study (due to own illness or injury)
  • Other days of reduced activity (days other than days away from work or school/study) due to own illness or injury.

Age standardisation

Age standardisation is used in this publication to allow the comparison of populations with different age structures. A standard age composition is used, in this case the age composition of the 2001 NHS benchmark population of Australia as at 30 June 2001. The age standardised estimate or proportion is that which would have prevailed at another point in time or other geographic area should the actual population have the standard age composition.

Alcohol risk level

The adult was divided into risk levels determined by their estimated average daily alcohol consumption in the 7 days prior to interview. Average daily consumption in the previous 7 days was estimated using two components:
  • the number of days on which the respondent reported consuming alcohol in the previous week
  • the quantity consumed on the three most recent days on which they consumed alcohol. For people who drank on no more than 3 days in the last week, their daily average was simply the total consumed divided by 7.

Risk levels are based on the NHMRC1 risk levels for harm in the long term, and assumes the level of alcohol consumption is typical. The average daily consumption of alcohol associated with the risk levels is as follows:

1 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), 2001, Australian Alcohol Guidelines: Health Risks and Benefits (www.nhmrc.gov.au).


Low risk25 ml or less50 ml or less
RiskyMore than 25, up to 50 mlMore than 50, up to 75 ml
High riskMore than 50 mlMore than 75 ml

Drinking status information was also collected for those who did not consume any alcohol in the 7 days prior to interview:
  • Last consumed more than one week to less than 12 months ago
  • Last consumed 2 months or more ago
  • Never consumed.

Ancillary cover

Any cover provided by private insurance organisations for health-related services other than medical or hospital cover (e.g. physiotherapy, dental, optical, chiropractic and ambulance).

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Calculated from self-reported height and weight information, using the formula weight (kg) divided by the square of height(m). To produce a measure of the prevalence of overweight or obesity in adults, BMI values are grouped according to the table below which allows categories to be reported against both WHO and NHMRC guidelines.

Less than 18.5
Normal range
18.5 to less than 20.0
20.0 to less than 25.0
25.0 to less than 30.0
30.0 and greater

Breastfeeding status

Based on the reported period that a baby was breastfed, and the ages at which other foods were introduced into the regular diet, breastfeeding status refers to the level of breastfeeding at a given age:
  • Fully breastfed: receiving only breastmilk on a regular basis
  • Partially breastfed: breastfed and receiving solids on a regular basis (with or without other breastmilk substitutes)
  • Complementary breastfeeding: breastfed and receiving breastmilk substitutes (but not solids) on a regular basis
  • Not breastfed.

Days out of role

Days away from work or school/study, and other days of reduced activity due to own illness or injury.

Days away

Refers to days on which the respondent was away from work, school or other educational institution (as appropriate) for at least half the day. Absences included days away due to a respondent's own illness or injury, or to care for another person with an illness or injury. Employed persons away from both work and school/study have been included under days away from work only.


Includes dentist, orthodontist, dental nurse, dental technician and dental mechanic.


People who reported that they had worked in a job, business or farm during the reference week (the full week prior to the date of interview); or that they had a job in the reference week but were not at work.

Exercise level

Based on frequency, intensity (i.e. walking, moderate exercise and vigorous exercise) and duration of exercise (for recreation, sport or fitness) in the 2 weeks prior to interview. From these components, an exercise score was derived using factors to represent the intensity of the exercise. Scores were grouped for output as follows:

Less than 100 (includes no exercise);
100 to less than 1600;
1600-3200, or more than 3200 but less than 2 hours of vigorous exercise;
More than 3200 and 2 hours or more of vigorous exercise.

Government health concession cards

Includes Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and treatment entitlement cards issued by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Health transition

Self assessed change in overall health relative to 12 months prior to interview.

Highest educational qualification

The level of the highest educational qualification obtained since leaving school.

Hospital cover

Health insurance provided by private insurance organisations to cover all or part of the costs of private accommodation in a public hospital, charges for private hospital treatment and care in a public hospital by a doctor of the patient's choice.

Household composition

Based on usual residents of households, as reported at the time of the survey.

Immunisation status

Immunisation status is defined as the degree to which the recommended course of vaccinations for a particular disease has been received (as appropriate to the age of the child). The NHMRC Standard Childhood Vaccination Schedules were used to derive immunisation status of children. Immunisation status is categorised as:
  • Fully immunised
  • Partially immunised
  • Not immunised
  • Not known if fully or partially immunised
  • Not known if immunised.


Incidence refers to the number of new cases of a particular characteristic, such as cancer, which occur within a certain period. This differs from prevalence, which refers to the number of cases of a particular characteristic that are present in a population at one point in time. Incidence and prevalence can also be presented as proportions of the population of interest.

Income of income unit

An income unit may comprise one person or group of related persons (de facto or registered marriage or parent/dependent child relationship) within a household whose command over income is assumed to be shared. An income unit may therefore include the partner (for couples), all children aged less than 15 years, and children aged 15-24 years provided they are unmarried, full-time students and do not have dependents of their own. In this survey, income unit income is the sum of the respondent's cash income and the cash income of their spouse/partner (where applicable). The income of any children within the units is not included.

Index of relative socioeconomic disadvantage

One of 5 of the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFAs) compiled by the ABS following each population Census. Each of the indexes summarise different aspects of the socioeconomic condition of areas; the index of relative socioeconomic disadvantage includes attributes such as low income, low educational attainment, high unemployment and jobs in relatively unskilled occupations. The index refers to the area (the Census Collector's District) in which a person lives, not to the socioeconomic situation of the particular individual. The index used in this publication were those compiled following the 1996 Census. For further information about the SEIFAs see Information Paper; 1996 Census of Population and Housing: SocioEconomic Indexes for Areas (cat. no. 2039.0).

Injury event
  • An injury event is an event meeting the following criteria:
  • the event was an accident, harmful incident, exposure to harmful factors or other incident
  • which occurred in the 4 weeks prior to interview
  • which resulted in an injury
  • which resulted in one or more of the following actions being taken: consulting a health professional, seeking medical advice, receiving medical treatment, reducing usual activities, other treatment of injury such as taking medications, or using a bandage or band aid or heat or ice pack.

In the labour force

People who, during the reference week, were employed or unemployed, as defined (See also Labour force status).

Kessler 10(K10)

See Psychological distress.

Labour force status

Refers to the employment situation of respondents at the time of the survey.

Categories are:
  • Employed (aged 15 years and over and had a job in the week prior to the survey),
  • Unemployed (aged 15 years and over, were not employed and actively looked for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey)
  • Not in the labour force (all children less than 15 years, and persons 15 years and over who were neither employed or unemployed).


From the ASGC Remoteness classification which is based on the updated Accessibility and Remoteness Index for Australia, known as ARIA Plus. Further details are contained in the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) 2001 (cat. no. 1216.0).

Long term condition

A condition which in the respondent's opinion has lasted for 6 months or more, or which he or she expects will last for 6 months or more. Some conditions reported were assumed to be long term conditions. These included asthma, cancer, diabetes insipidus, diabetes mellitus types 1 and 2, rheumatic heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Main language spoken at home other than English

Obtained for adults only and refers to whether a language other than English is spoken at home, solely or in conjunction with English and/or languages other than English.

National Health Priority Areas (NHPA)

Included cancer, diabetes/high sugar levels, heart and circulatory conditions, injuries, mental health and asthma in 2001. Arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases have been added in 2002.

Other days of reduced activity

Days other than days away from work or from school/study on which a person had cut down on their usual activities for at least half the day, as a result of personal injury or illness.

Other health professional (OHP)

  • Aboriginal health worker (n.e.c.)
  • Accredited counsellor
  • Acupuncturist
  • Alcohol and drug worker (n.e.c.)
  • Audiologist/Audiometrist
  • Chemist (for advice)
  • Chiropodist/podiatrist
  • Chiropractor
  • Dietitian/Nutritionist
  • Herbalist
  • Hypnotherapist
  • Naturopath
  • Nurse
  • Occupational therapist
  • Optician/optometrist
  • Osteopath
  • Physiotherapist/hydrotherapist
  • Psychologist
  • Social worker/welfare officer
  • Speech therapist/pathologist.

Pharmaceutical medications

Any medication used in the 2 weeks prior to interview for asthma, cancer, heart and circulatory conditions or diabetes/high sugar levels, other than medications identified by respondents as vitamins or minerals, or natural or herbal medications. See also type of medication below.


The number of cases of a particular characteristic (e.g. a specific long term condition such as cancer) that are present in a population at one point in time. This differs from incidence, which refers to the number of new cases of a particular characteristic, such as cancer, which occur within a certain period. Prevalence and incidence can also be presented as proportions of the population of interest.

Psychological distress

Derived from the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale-10 items (K-10). This is a scale of non-specific psychological distress based on 10 questions about negative emotional states in the 4 weeks prior to interview. The K10 is scored from 10 to 50, with higher scores indicating a higher level of distress; low scores indicate a low level of distress. In this publication scores are grouped as follows:
  • Low (10-15)
  • Moderate (16-21)
  • High (22-29)
  • Very high (30-50).

Self assessed body mass

Respondent's reported assessment of himself/herself as being of acceptable weight, underweight or overweight.

Self assessed health status

Refers to respondent's general assessment of own health, against a 5 point scale from excellent through to poor.

Smoker status

Refers to the smoking status of adults at the time of the survey, and incorporates the notion of (regular) smoking, as reported by respondents. Categories are:
  • Current regular (i.e. daily) smoker
  • Current smoker not regular
  • Ex-regular smoker;
  • Never smoked regularly.

Smoking refers to the regular smoking of tobacco, including manufactured (packet) cigarettes, roll your own cigarettes, cigars and pipes, but excludes chewing tobacco and smoking of non tobacco products.

Sun protection measures

Measures cover a one month period prior to interview. They include sunscreen, umbrella, hat, clothing, sunglasses, avoiding the sun/limiting time in the sun and other measures.

Type of diabetes

Type 1 - Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus/juvenile onset diabetes. This is where the pancreas produces little or no insulin. To maintain normal blood sugar levels, Type 1 diabetics require regular insulin injections and should follow a special diet.

Type 2 - Non-insulin dependent diabetes. This is a condition where the body's cells do not respond to insulin in the normal way. Type 2 diabetes can appear at any age. It is the most common form of diabetes mellitus. People with Type 2 may go on to need regular insulin injections.

Type of injury event

The type of event resulting in injury as reported by respondents against the following categories:
  • Vehicle accident
  • Low fall (one metre or less)
  • High fall
  • Hitting something or being hit by something
  • Attack by another person
  • Near drowning
  • Exposure to fire
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Bite or sting
  • Other event requiring action.

Type of medication used for mental wellbeing

Refers to the type of medication reported by adult respondents as used for their mental wellbeing in the 2 weeks prior to interview. Includes vitamins and minerals, natural and herbal medications and the following types of pharmaceutical medications:
  • sleeping tablets/capsules
  • tablets/capsules for anxiety or nerves
  • tranquillisers
  • antidepressants
  • mood stabilizers
  • other medications for mental health.


An unemployed person was defined as one who met all of the following criteria:
  • who was not employed during the reference week
  • had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the 4 weeks up to the end of the reference week
  • was available for work in the reference week.

Usual daily serves of fruit

Refers to the number of serves of fruit (excluding drinks and beverages) usually consumed each day as reported by the respondent. Fruit included fresh, dried, frozen and tinned. A serve of fruit was defined as approximately 150 grams of fresh fruit or 50 grams of dried fruit. To assist respondents in the interview, they were shown photos of individual fruit serves as a medium piece of fruit, two small pieces of fruit or a cup of diced fruit. A single serve of dried fruit was described, if required, as a quarter of a cup of sultanas or four dried apricot halves.

Usual daily serves of vegetables

Refers to the number of serves of vegetables (excluding drinks and beverages) usually consumed each day as reported by the respondent. Vegetables included all types such as potatoes, salad and stir-fried vegetables, whether fresh, frozen or tinned. A serve of vegetables was defined as approximately 75 grams of vegetables. To assist respondents in the interview, they were shown photos of single serves of vegetables as half a cup of cooked vegetables or a cup of salad vegetables

Work-related conditions

Long term medical conditions reported in the survey due to an accident, incident or exposure, and which the respondent identified as work related.