Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey methodology

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Reference period
August 2022


This publication presents results from the August 2022 Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey.

This is the second monthly Household Impacts of COVID-19 survey in this series.

The Survey is designed to provide insight into how Australian households are being impacted by the continued COVID-19 outbreaks and restrictions. From July, the survey was expanded to include the impacts of colds and flu.

The results for all past publications can be accessed by selecting ‘View all releases’ in the header of this publication. 

This publication forms part of a suite of additional products that the ABS produced to measure the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Australian economy and society.

For more information refer to the Measuring the impacts of COVID-19 update.

Data collection

This survey was undertaken as a topic on the Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS).

The MPHS is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and is designed to collect statistics for a number of small, self-contained surveys.

The topics in the August Household Impacts of COVID-19 survey include:

  • symptoms of cold, flu, or COVID-19
  • COVID-19 testing
  • impact of COVID-19 on work arrangements
  • impact of COVID-19 on school or childcare attendance
  • impact of cold and flu symptoms on work arrangements
  • impact of cold and flu symptoms on school or childcare attendance.


The scope of the survey was people aged 18 years and over in private dwellings across Australia and excludes:

  • members of the Australian permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from Census and estimated resident population counts
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants)
  • persons living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, boarding schools, hospitals, nursing homes, homes for people with disabilities, and prisons
  • persons resident in the Indigenous Community Strata (ICS).

The scope for the survey included households residing in urban, rural, remote and very remote parts of Australia, except the ICS.


The coverage of selections included all Australian geographies to ensure national estimates could be produced.

Collection method

Data were collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI), whereby responses were recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer, with interviews conducted over the telephone.

Sample size

Information was collected from 2,160 fully responding persons.

Processing the data


Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total 'in-scope' population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each enumerated person. The weight is a value which indicates the number of persons in the population represented by the sample person.

The survey was weighted and benchmarked to the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) living in private dwellings in each state and territory at August 2022. People living in Indigenous communities were excluded.

Household living arrangements

The survey collected information from respondents about the household living arrangements of all people within the household. The categories are not comparable to those found in classifications related to Family or Household composition.

For this survey, people who live in the household full-time or part-time, whether they are related or not, are included. Dependants who are 18 years or older are regarded as adults, and visitors to the household are excluded.

Each category refers to private dwellings containing:

  • Lone person - a person 18 years or older who lives in the household on their own.
  • Household with children - a household with one or more children (under the age of 18 years) usually resident in the same household. The family may include any number of other related or unrelated individuals usually resident in the household.
  • Household without children – a household of two or more persons with no children under 18 years usually resident in the same household. The household may include any number of other related or unrelated individuals usually resident in the household.

Comparing the data


The survey previously asked about household experiences with COVID-19 symptoms in the past four weeks. From July 2022, the question about symptoms was expanded to also ask about cold or flu symptoms. The list of symptoms in the question is unchanged; cough, fever, difficulty breathing, sore throat, tiredness, joint aches, headache, runny or stuffy nose, any changes in taste or smell, nausea and/or vomiting, chills.

Comparability of Time Series

Caution should be taken when comparing across ABS surveys. Estimates from the latest Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey may also differ from earlier releases due to differences in survey mode, methodology and questionnaire design.

Where results are compared over time, comparisons are made based on the weighted representative data for each survey.

Data release

Reliability of the estimates

The estimates in this publication are based on information obtained from a sample survey. Any data collection may encounter factors, known as non-sampling error, which can impact on the reliability of the resulting statistics. In addition, the reliability of estimates based on sample surveys are also subject to sampling variability. That is, the estimates may differ from those that would have been produced had all persons in the population been included in the survey. This is known as sampling error.

Non-sampling error

Non-sampling error is caused by factors other than those related to sample selection. It is any factor that results in the data values not accurately reflecting the true value of the population.

It can occur at any stage throughout the survey process. Examples include:

  • selected people that do not respond (e.g. refusals, non-contact)
  • questions being misunderstood
  • responses being incorrectly recorded
  • errors in coding or processing the survey data.

Sampling error

Sampling error is the expected difference that can occur between the published estimates and the value that would have been produced if the whole population had been surveyed. Sampling error is the result of random variation and can be estimated using measures of variance in the data.

Margin of error

This publication reports the Margin of Error (MoE) for estimates of proportions (%).

MoE's presented in this publication are at the 95% confidence level. This means that there are 19 chances in 20 that the estimate will differ by less than the specified MoE from the population value (the figure obtained if all in-scope dwellings had been enumerated).

Depending on how the estimate is to be used, a MOE of greater than 10% may be considered too large to inform decisions.


The Data Cubes, containing all tables for this publication in Excel spreadsheet format, are available within the Downloads section of the publication. The spreadsheets present tables of proportions and their corresponding MoE.


The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must take care and make assurances that any statistical information about individual respondents cannot be derived from published data.


The ABS would like to thank all participants for their involvement in the survey. The information collected is critical to informing the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.

ABS surveys draw extensively on information provided by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated and without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to the ABS.


ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
CAIComputer Assisted Interviews
ERPEstimated Resident Population
ICSIndigenous Community Strata
LFSLabour Force Survey
MOEMargin of Error
MPHSMultipurpose Household Survey
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