National Health Measures Survey

Purpose of the survey

If you have been selected to complete the National Health Survey, your Interviewer may ask you if you are willing to take part in the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS). As part of the NHMS we are asking people to voluntarily provide a blood and urine sample.

The NHMS will contribute to a complete picture of the health of the Australian population. It will be used to inform future healthcare policies and public health programs that may be relevant to Australians for years to come. It will also support research into the relationship between nutrition, exercise and health status.

Your participation in the NHMS is entirely voluntary – you can say yes or no to taking part. The NHMS involves collecting blood and/or urine samples from people aged 12 years and above. Children aged 5-11 years will only be asked to provide a urine sample.

Frequently Asked Questions for all Survey Participants (Adults, Children, Guardians)

What is the National Health Measures Survey?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is conducting the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS). The NHMS involves collecting blood and/or urine samples from people aged 12 years and above. Children aged 5-11 years will only be asked to provide a urine sample.

If you have been selected for the NHMS, you will be asked to voluntarily provide biomedical (blood and/or urine) samples by visiting your local collection centre. Your participation in the NHMS is entirely voluntary – you can say yes or no to taking part.

The National Health Measures Survey 2022, will help us to understand the health of Australians, including the prevalence of long-term health conditions, health risk factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, diet and physical activity.

How are the samples from the National Health Measures Survey used, and why are they important?

The samples will be tested for a range of things. For example, blood samples will be tested for cholesterol and other indicators which may be linked to heart conditions, and for glucose levels which may be linked to diabetes. Urine samples will be tested to check for kidney health.

Providing samples will help to guide future healthcare policies, guidelines and public health programs and inform vital research into the relationship between nutrition, exercise and health outcomes.

Is the National Health Measures Survey voluntary?

Yes, the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS) is voluntary. Participants choose to provide samples; they do not have to participate. People aged 12 years and above can choose to provide, blood or urine, or both. Children aged 5-11 years can choose to provide a urine sample only, they will not be asked to provide a blood sample.

If at any time a participant decides to withdraw from the study, the samples will be placed into clinical waste for destruction as per Sonic Pathology Australia’s standard procedures. All other data will also be removed where it has not been deidentified.

What tests will be done on the blood and urine samples?

The National Health Measures Survey includes a range of biomedical (blood and urine) tests. As a participant you can choose to receive a copy of your test results.

Fasting Plasma Glucose

Measures the level of glucose in the blood after a period of fasting. Having high levels of glucose after fasting for 8-12 hours can mean that someone has diabetes or may be at risk of developing diabetes.

Glycated Haemoglobin (HbA1c)

Non-fasting blood test that measures glucose that is bound to haemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen in your red blood cells). Used to diagnose Type 2 diabetes and to monitor how well diabetes is being managed.

Total Cholesterol

Non-fasting blood test that measures the total of all forms of cholesterol (LDL, HDL and triglycerides) in the blood. High total blood cholesterol is a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, but the overall risk depends on the relative amounts of each type of cholesterol (known as the lipid profile).

HDL Cholesterol

Non-fasting blood test that measures the level of HDL cholesterol in the blood. HDL cholesterol is important as it can protect the body from the damaging effects of LDL cholesterol. Low levels of HDL cholesterol can mean a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Fasting Triglycerides and LDL Cholesterol

Fasting blood test measures the level of triglycerides in the blood. The level of LDL cholesterol in the blood is not measured directly, it is calculated from results for total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and fasting triglycerides. High levels of LDL cholesterol or triglycerides can mean a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Serum Creatinine and Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR)

Non-fasting blood test that measures the amount of creatinine, a waste product, in the blood. High levels of creatinine can mean the kidney may not be functioning well. The eGFR is calculated from the level of serum creatinine in the blood. The eGFR is used to assess kidney function and to identify kidney disease.

Urinary Albumin, Urinary Creatinine, and the Albumin Creatinine Ratio (ACR)

Urine tests measure the amount of albumin (a protein) and creatinine (a waste product) in the urine. The ratio of albumin to creatinine (ACR) is calculated. High levels of albumin protein in the urine mean the kidney is not functioning well. The albumin creatinine ratio is used to identify kidney disease.

Alanine Amino Transferase (ALT)

Non-fasting blood test that measures the amount of the enzyme alanine amino transferase in the blood. This is one of the tests used to assess liver function. Elevated levels of alanine amino transferase in the blood can indicate liver inflammation, poor liver function or damage.

Gamma-glutamyl Transferase (GGT)

Non-fasting blood test that measures the amount of gamma-glutamyl transferase enzymes in the blood. This is one of the tests used to assess liver function. Elevated levels of gamma-glutamyl transferase in the blood can indicate liver inflammation, poor liver function or damage.

Serum Folate

Non-fasting blood test that measures the level of folate in the blood as an indicator of recent folate intake. Folate is an essential vitamin, especially for the first three months of fetal development. Folic acid is added to wheat flour used to make bread in Australia and measuring folate helps to monitor the effectiveness of this food fortification program.

Vitamin B12

Non-fasting blood test to measure the level of vitamin B12 in the blood. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for blood and neurological functions and deficiency can be related to dietary intake.

Serum Ferritin

Non-fasting blood test that measures iron (ferritin) stores. This test is one of several that form part of ‘Iron Studies’ used to assess iron levels. Iron is essential for haemoglobin which is the red cell protein that carries oxygen in the blood. Low ferritin can cause anaemia, a condition where the number of red blood cells and/or the amount of haemoglobin in blood cells is too low. High levels of serum ferritin may indicate inflammation.

C-reactive Protein (CRP)

Non-fasting blood test that measures the level of C-reactive protein in the blood. C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation (which may be caused by infection). This test may help interpret high serum ferritin results.

Serum Transferrin Receptor (sTfR)

Non-fasting blood test that measures the amount of transferrin receptor in the blood. This test is one of several that form part of ‘Iron Studies’ used to assess iron levels. Transferrin is a protein that transports iron in the body. High levels of transferrin can indicate low iron levels or iron deficiency.

Haemoglobin

Non-fasting blood test that measures the level of haemoglobin in red blood cells. Haemoglobin is the oxygen carrying component of red blood cells. Haemoglobin levels can be abnormal in a large number of conditions e.g. low in anaemia or high in blood cancer.

Vitamin D

Non-fasting blood test that measures the level of vitamin D in the blood. This test is used to assess vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency can impact bone health.

Biomedical tests used for population analyses only

Some blood and urine tests are only used to measure population levels rather than individual levels of the substance. What this means is that for these tests an individual result is not provided, instead these results are combined to provide a population level of each substance. The following tests are those which will not be reported in individual results.

Urinary Sodium

Urine test that measures the amount of sodium in the urine. Salt is a major source of sodium in the diet. This test is used to estimate the amount of sodium consumed across a population. High sodium diets can increase risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. As this is a test to measure levels across a population rather than individuals, individual results are not provided to participants.

Urinary Potassium

Urine test that measures the amount of potassium in the urine. This test is used to estimate the amount of potassium consumed across a population. As this is a test to measure levels across a population rather than individuals, individual results are not provided to participants.

Urinary Iodine

Urine test that measures the level of iodine in the urine. Iodine is found naturally in a range of foods and is required for the production of thyroid hormone. Because thyroid hormone is essential for many processes in the body, especially the normal physical and mental development of babies and children, Australian bread-making salt is supplemented with iodine. Measuring Iodine helps to monitor the effectiveness of this food fortification program. As this is a test to measure levels across a population rather than individuals, individual results are not provided to participants.

Per-and-Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances

Non-fasting blood test to check for the presence of a group of chemicals found in the environment known as Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) for monitoring purposes. As this is a test to measure levels across a population rather than individuals, individual results are not provided to participants.

What are the risks associated with giving blood and urine samples?

By taking part, the participant acknowledges participation (including the collection of the blood and urine samples) is at their own risk.

When giving a blood sample, there is a risk of a small amount of pain or discomfort from the needle. There may also be a small amount of bruising where the needle was inserted. There are no risks associated with giving a urine sample.

If, as a result of providing blood or urine samples you experience any unexpected pain, other than from the risks described above, please immediately inform the ABS by calling 1800 482 517. If you require urgent medical attention please contact a medical service provider first, then notify the ABS. Please follow the same procedures for the child.

There is a possibility that the sample results may reveal a medical condition that you were unaware of. In the rare event that a significant health risk is found, your regular doctor will be contacted if their details have been provided. If these details have not been provided, a representative from Sonic Pathology Australia will be in contact and advise you to urgently seek medical attention. The same procedures will be followed for the participating child.

How will the information be kept safe, secure and confidential?

We take the security of personal information seriously. More information about the personal information we collect can be found in the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS) Collection Notice.

Samples collected as part of NHMS are held securely and tested by Sonic Pathology Australia (Sonic). These samples will not be stored for future research. Any personal (identifiable) information about you will be treated and protected as required under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). Sonic have comprehensive information security management systems in place to support privacy and data security and even though samples will be re-identifiable (identified by a code, without a name), they will be subject to Sonic’s security system. No information or samples will be shared with anyone else, and personal information will not be shared or given to anyone. Once the tests have been completed, all samples in primary collection tubes (blood) and containers (urine) will be destroyed after 7 days of being received at the central laboratory according to Sonic’s standard clinical waste procedures. Serum aliquots for PFAS (testing for chemicals such as those used in fire-fighting foam) analysis will be retained until testing and destroyed within 24 hours post analysis. For more information, please see Sonic’s Privacy Policy.

Test results may be joined up with data collected from the earlier surveys that you completed; this will give a more comprehensive picture of our participant’s health. No information that can identify a participant will be made available to anyone outside of the ABS. Researchers will have access to information which will be used for research purposes only. Participants cannot be identified from this information.

Test results are provided to the ABS and kept confidential under the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Under this Act, ABS staff are legally bound to protect your data. It is an offence to reveal any information collected under this Act. More information please see the ABS Privacy Policy.

Has this study been approved by an external ethics committee?

Yes, the ABS has obtained ethics approval from an external ethics committee, Bellberry Human Research Ethics Committee (Bellberry) for the National Health Measures Survey. They have reviewed and approved this survey in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) – incorporating all updates. This Statement has been developed to protect the interests of people who agree to participate in human research studies.

Should you wish to discuss the survey or view a copy of the Complaint procedure with someone not directly involved, particularly in relation to matters concerning policies, information or complaints about the conduct of the survey or your rights as a participant, you may contact the Operations Manager, Bellberry on 08 8361 3222.

How do I provide my biomedical samples?

If you are interested in providing blood and/or urine samples, your ABS Interviewer will give you a Participant Information Brochure and a referral form. If you choose to take part, you will be asked to visit a participating collection centre to provide your samples. You can find a participating collection centre most convenient to you here, or by calling Sonic Pathology Australia on 1800 577 500. Remember to take your referral form with you to the collection centre.

Providing your samples should only take about 10-20 minutes and there is no charge to you. The tests are similar to other blood and urine samples you might have had before. Once you have provided your samples you will receive a $75 gift card to help you with any costs associated with visiting a collection centre, like childcare or travel expenses (no receipts are needed). You should receive your gift card within three weeks of your visit to a collection centre.

If you find it difficult to go to a collection centre, please let your ABS Interviewer know, or call 1800 482 517 to discuss other options such as a home visit. You will not receive a gift card if you receive a home visit.

Where can I go to provide my biomedical samples?

You can give blood and urine samples at any Sonic Pathology Australia collection
centre. It is important to attend a Sonic Pathology Australia collection centre so that all participants’ samples are collected and analysed in the same way. You can find a participating collection centre most convenient to you here, or by calling Sonic Pathology Australia on 1800 577 500.

Note that some Sonic Pathology Australia collection centres operate under a different name, for example some collection centres in Sydney may operate as Douglass Hanly Moir, or as Barratt and Smith Pathology in Victoria, or as Clinpath Pathology services in South Australia.

If you find it difficult to go to a collection centre, please let your ABS Interviewer know, or call 1800 482 517 to discuss other options such as a home visit. You will not receive a gift card if you receive a home visit.

Do I need to book an appointment for my tests?

No, Sonic Pathology Australia don’t require you to make an appointment to provide blood and urine samples. The opening hours of your nearest participating collection centre are available to you by visiting https://www.soniccommercialpath.com.au/our-locations, so that you can determine a time to attend that suits you. Some collection centres are open early, which may best suit those people fasting overnight.

Do I have to provide both blood and urine samples?

You can choose to provide both blood and urine samples, blood samples only, or urine sample only if you are 12 years or over. Children aged 5-11 can only provide urine samples. Children aged 4 and under will not be asked to participate in the NHMS sample collection.

Will I be notified about my blood and urine results?

If you agree, a copy of your results will be provided to you within three weeks of attending a collection centre. You can also choose whether to have a copy sent to your doctor.

There is a possibility that your sample(s) results may reveal a medical condition that you were unaware of. If you have agreed, we will provide the test results to your regular doctor. If you have not agreed to your regular doctor being notified and test results find an incidental significant health risk, a representative from Sonic Pathology Australia will be in contact and advise you to urgently seek medical attention.

It is important to remember that this study is not intended to diagnose or treat any health problems you may have and should not replace visits to a doctor or other health professional. If you wish to discuss your test results, please consult your doctor or health professional.

Will I be paid to take part in the National Health Measures Survey?

No, you will not be paid to take part in the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS). Once you have provided your samples you will receive a reimbursement in the form of a $75 gift card to help you with any costs associated with visiting a collection centre, like childcare or travel expenses (no receipts are needed). The gift card should be received within three weeks of your visit to a collection centre.

Gift cards will be emailed or posted to you, depending on the contact details you provided to the ABS Interviewer at the time of your interview.

If you cannot go to a participating collection centre and receive a home visit instead, you will not receive a $75 gift card.

I want to participate but I’ve lost my form. What do I need to do?

Call 1800 482 517 to speak with an ABS staff member who will arrange for a referral form to be sent to you.

Once you have received your form, fill in the parts specified for the participant. You can then visit a participating collection centre to provide your samples. You can find a participating collection centre most convenient to you here, or by calling Sonic Pathology Australia on 1800 577 500. Remember to take your referral form with you to the collection centre.

Providing your samples should only take about 10-20 minutes and there is no charge to you. The tests are similar to other blood and urine samples you might have had before. Once you have provided your samples you will receive a $75 gift card to help you with any costs associated with visiting a collection centre, like childcare or travel expenses (no receipts are needed). You should receive your gift card within three weeks of your visit to a collection centre.

I’ve changed my mind and I want to participate. How do I get involved?

Call 1800 482 517 to speak with an ABS staff member who will arrange for a referral form to be sent to you.

Once you have received your form, fill in the parts specified for the participant. Please remember to sign the consent section. You can then visit a participating collection centre to provide your samples. You can find a participating collection centre most convenient to you here, or by calling Sonic Pathology Australia on 1800 577 500. Remember to take your referral form with you to the collection centre.

Providing your samples should only take about 10-20 minutes and there is no charge to you. The tests are similar to other blood and urine samples you might have had before. Once you have provided your samples you will receive a $75 gift card to help you with any costs associated with visiting a collection centre, like childcare or travel expenses (no receipts are needed). You should receive your gift card within three weeks of your visit to a collection centre.

I haven’t received my gift card. What do I do?

All gift cards will be posted and addressed to the participant, unless the email out option was selected. It may take up to three weeks after attending the collection centre to receive your gift card. If you haven’t received it within three weeks of providing your samples, please call 1800 482 517 to speak with an ABS staff member.

If you have a child who has participated, or are a child who has participated your gift card will be posted and addressed to the child.

How do I withdraw from the National Health Measures Survey?

You can withdraw from the National Health Measures Survey at any time. Withdrawing will not affect your ability to participate in future studies. If you decide to withdraw, please call the ABS on 1800 482 517 to speak with an ABS staff member.

Your samples will be destroyed after 7 days as per Sonic Pathology Australia’s standard procedures. All other data that has not been de-identified will also be removed.

Who can I contact for more information?

For help or more information about the National Health Measures Survey please call us on 1800 482 517 during business hours. For help outside these hours, please leave a message with your contact details and we will return your call as soon as possible.

What is the Australian Health Biobank and how do I find out more information?

The Australian Health Biobank is being funded by the Australian Department of Health who have contracted the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to act as the Australian Health Biobank Custodian.

The Australian Health Biobank is being set up to provide a national collection of biological samples from the Australian population. This will provide a unique resource for researchers in the future to undertake a wide range of research projects to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians. The Australian Health Biobank will help make this research easier by making a collection of samples available to researchers that represent the Australian community.

The CSIRO will be the point of contact both for people who donate to the biobank and for the researchers who use the biobank. You can visit the Australian Health Biobank Website for more information.

If you have any further questions, please call 1300 363 400.

Frequently Asked Questions for all Guardians

A child in my care has been selected to take part in the National Health Measures Survey, what will they be asked to do?

The child in your care has been selected to participate in the National Health Measures Survey. Participation is entirely voluntary – you or the child can say yes or no to taking part. The NHMS involves collecting blood and/or urine samples from people aged 12 years and above. Children aged 5-11 years will only be asked to provide a urine sample.
The child can give their samples at any participating collection centre. It will take about 10-20 minutes and there is no cost to you or the child. For a list of the closest collection centres please:

Visit: www.soniccommercialpath.com.au/our-locations
Call Sonic: 1800 577 500
Otherwise speak to your Interviewer or call the ABS on 1800 482 517.

When the child arrives, a trained health professional will:

  • Check the details on the referral form.
  • Ask if they have any health conditions.
  • Take a small sample of blood from their arm near their elbow (for people aged over 12 year only).
  • Ask for a small urine sample.

Does the child in my care have to provide both blood and urine samples?

If you and the child in your care agree to participate in the NHMS the child can provide both blood and urine samples, blood samples only, or urine sample only if they are 12 years or over. Children aged 5-11 can only provide urine samples. Children aged 4 and under will not be asked to participate in the collection.

Who will be notified about the child in my care’s blood and urine results?

If you agree, a copy of the child in your care’s results will be provided within three weeks of attending a collection centre. You can also choose whether to have a copy sent to their doctor.

There is a possibility that their sample results may reveal a medical condition that you or they were unaware of. If you have agreed, we will provide the test results to their regular doctor. If you have not agreed to their regular doctor being notified and test results find an incidental significant health risk, , a representative from Sonic Pathology Australia will be in contact and advise the child to urgently seek medical attention.

It is important to remember that this study is not intended to diagnose or treat any health problems they may have and should not replace visits to a doctor or other health professional. If you wish to discuss their test results, please consult their doctor or health professional.

Will the child in my care be paid to take part in the National Health Measures Survey?

No. The child in your care will not be paid to take part in the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS). Once they have provided their samples they will receive a reimbursement in the form of a $75 gift card to help with any costs associated with visiting a collection centre, like childcare or travel expenses (no receipts are needed). The gift card should be received within three weeks of their visit to a collection centre.

The gift card will be posted and addressed to the child.

If the child in your care cannot go to a participating collection centre and receives a home visit instead, they will not receive a $75 gift card.

The child in my care hasn’t received their gift card. What do I do?

It may take up to three weeks after attending the collection centre to receive the gift card. If they haven’t received it within three weeks of providing their samples, please call 1800 482 517 to speak with an ABS staff member.

Remember all gift cards to children will be posted and addressed to the child.

How can the child in my care withdraw from the National Health Measures Survey?

You or the child can elect to withdraw participation for the child in your care in the National Health Measures Survey at any time. If you decide to withdraw, please call the ABS on 1800 482 517 to speak with an ABS staff member.

Their samples will be destroyed after 7 days as per Sonic Pathology Australia’s standard procedures. All other data that has not been de-identified will also be removed.

Frequently Asked Questions for all Child Survey Participants (5-17 years)

How do I participate in the National Health Measures Survey if I am under 18 years old?

You can choose if you want to take part. Please ask your parent/carer to fill in the guardian consent and referral forms. We will also ask you to complete a form asking for your consent.

Giving samples only takes a few minutes.

  • Blood – a special nurse will use a small needle to collect some blood in a tube from your arm near your elbow. This is only if you are over 12 years old.
  • Urine – the nurse will provide you with a special container to collect some urine when you go to the toilet. The nurse will explain how to do this.

By donating a small amount of your blood and/or urine we can see how healthy you are. Your samples will be sent away to be tested; from this we’ll be able to get a picture of your health. We can learn, for example, about your vitamin levels and how well your kidneys work. The results can also be used to help all Australians live healthier lives.

Do I have to provide both blood and urine samples?

If you are 12 years and over you can choose to provide both blood and urine samples, blood samples only, or urine sample only. If you are aged 5-11 you can only provide urine samples. Children aged 4 and under will not be asked to participate in the collection.

Please discuss your participation with your parent/carer.

Will I be notified about my blood and urine results?

If you and your parent/carer agree, a copy of your results will be provided to you within three weeks of attending a collection centre. You and your parent/carer can also choose whether to have a copy sent to your regular doctor.

Please discuss your participation with your parent/carer.

Will I be paid to take part in the National Health Measures Survey?

No. You will not be paid to take part in the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS). Once you have provided your samples you will receive a reimbursement in the form of a $75 gift card to help with any costs associated with visiting a collection centre, like travel expenses. The gift card should be received within three weeks of your visit to a collection centre.

The gift card will be addressed to you and posted to your address.

If you cannot go to a participating collection centre and receive a home visit instead, you will not receive a $75 gift card.

I haven’t received my gift card. What do I do?

Your gift card will be addressed to you and posted to your address. It may take up to three weeks after attending the collection centre to receive your gift card. If you haven’t received it within three weeks of providing your samples, please call 1800 482 517 to speak with an ABS staff member.

How can I withdraw from the National Health Measures Survey?

You can elect to withdraw from the National Health Measures Survey at any time. If you decide to withdraw, please ask your parent/carer to call 1800 482 517 to speak with an ABS staff member.

Your samples will be destroyed after 7 days as per Sonic Pathology Australia’s standard procedures. All other data that has not been de-identified will also be removed.