Microdata and TableBuilder: National Health Survey

Available products include Tablebuilder, Datalab and Basic Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) which provide data from the National Health Survey

Introduction

This product provides a range of information about the release of microdata from the National Health Survey (NHS) 2017-18, Australia, including details about the survey methodology and how to use the different microdata products. A Data Item List and information on the conditions of use and the quality of the microdata, as well as the definitions used, are also provided.

Microdata are the most detailed information available from a survey, and are generally the responses to individual questions on the questionnaire or data derived from two or more questions. The microdata products are released with the approval of the Australian Statistician.

The NHS is collected every three years and is designed to provide a range of information about the health of Australians. It provides data such as prevalence of chronic and long-term health conditions, self-reported health status and health risk factors. This information can be cross classified by selected demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

Available products

The following microdata products are available or planned for release from this survey:

  • Table Builder - an online tool for creating tables and graphs
  • Basic CURF - datasets available on MicrodataDownload
  • DataLab - approved users can access a remote desktop environment for in-depth analysis using a range of statistical software packages.

The Expanded CURF, the use of the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) and distribution of CURFs via CD-ROM have been discontinued for this collection, to be replaced by the Detailed Microdata available through the DataLab.

Further information about these services, and other information to assist users in understanding and accessing microdata in general, is available from the Microdata Entry Page.

Applying for access

To apply for access to the CURF, TableBuilder and/or the Detailed Microdata (DataLab), please follow the steps found in the How to Apply for Microdata page on the ABS website.

If you are already a registered National Health Survey TableBuilder user, please use the TableBuilder Login page.

Further information

Further information about the survey and related microdata products:

  • Detailed list of data items for the CURF, Tablebuilder and DataLab are available from the Data downloads section.
  • The Quality Declaration is available from the Quality Declaration section.
  • Detailed information about the survey is available in the National Health Survey, User Guide, Australia, 2017-18 (cat. no. 4363.0) and National Health Survey, Australia, 2017-18: Summary of Results, 2017-18 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001).

Support

For further support in the use of this product, please contact Microdata Access Strategies on 1300 135 070 or via microdata.access@abs.gov.au.

Data available on request

Data collected in the survey but not included in the microdata products may be available from the ABS, on request, as statistics in tabulated form.

Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, special tabulations can be produced incorporating data items, populations and geographic areas selected to meet individual requirements. These are available, on request, on a fee for service basis. Contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or via client.services@abs.gov.au for further information.

Privacy

The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS handles any personal information that you provide to us.

Survey methodology

Detailed information on the design and operation of the National Health Survey, 2017-18 can be found in the Explanatory Notes of National Health Survey: First Results (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001) including scope and coverage, survey design, data collection methodology, weighting, benchmarking and estimation, and the reliability of estimates. Information about the comparison of estimates and significance testing can be accessed from the Technical Note section of that publication. Lists of terms and definitions used in the NHS 2017-18 can be found under the Abbreviations and Glossary sections on the Methodology page. Published summary tables, the survey questionnaire and prompt cards can be accessed from the Data downloads section.

File structure

Information from the survey is stored electronically in the form of data items. In some cases, items were formed directly from individual survey questions while in others, items were derived from answers to several questions (e.g. Body Mass Index derived from measured height and weight). Some items were derived with reference to information from other organisations such as the National Health and Medical Research Council (e.g. in relation to guidelines on consumption of alcohol).

Datasets from the National Health Survey are hierarchical in nature. A hierarchical data file is an efficient means of storing and retrieving information which describes one to many, or many to many, relationships e.g. a person may report multiple days on which alcohol was consumed and also multiple types of alcoholic beverages on each of these days.

Data about households and families are contained as individual characteristics on person records. While estimates are also available at the household level, estimates at the family level are not available from this survey. The data items and related output categories currently available for the NHS TableBuilder database, Basic CURF and Detailed Microdata (DataLab) are available in Excel spreadsheets from the Data downloads section of this product.

The following table shows the levels available in the microdata products and the information contained on those levels:

Level nameTable BuilderBasic CURFDataLabInformation contained on level
1. HouseholdXXXGeographic classifications, household size and structure, dwelling characteristics and household income details
2. Selected personXXXDemographic and socio-economic characteristics of survey respondents, and most of the health, health risks and related information they provided
3. Alcohol - Day consumedXXXAlcohol consumption on the three most recent days on which respondents reported consuming alcohol and the order of consumption
4. Alcohol - Type consumedXXXOrder of consumption, and the broad alcohol types and quantities for each type consumed on those days
5. ConditionsXXXInformation about health conditions reported by respondents
6. MedicationsXXXInformation on medications reported by respondents
7. Health literacyXXXInformation on Health literacy reported by respondents

The following table shows the hierarchical file structure and the relationship between each level:

Level 1Level 2Level 3Level 4Relationship type
Household   One record per in scope household
 Selected Persons  Up to two selected person records per household (1 adult and 1 child)
  Health Literacy One health literacy record for each person who responded to the health literacy survey
  Conditions One Conditions record for each reported condition for each selected person record
  Medications One Medications record for each reported medication/supplement for each selected person record
  Alcohol - Day consumed Up to three Alcohol - day consumed records per selected person 15 years and older (children 0-14 years were out of scope for the alcohol module)
   Alcohol - Type consumedUp to 13 Alcohol - type records per Alcohol - day consumed record

Using the TableBuilder

Instructions on how to use the TableBuilder can be found in TableBuilder User Guide (cat. no. 1406.0.55.005) and via the help links within the product itself.

For technical support in the use of TableBuilder please contact Microdata Access Strategies on 1300 135 070 via microdata.access@abs.gov.au.

For assistance with analysis of the data generated from the TableBuilder, please contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 (within Australia), +61 2 92684909 (from overseas) or via client.services@abs.gov.au.

For confidentiality and/or usability reasons, some data item values have been collapsed and/or restricted for use on the TableBuilder.

As discussed on the File Structure page of this product, this survey is hierarchical in nature. For the TableBuilder, the following structure is in place:

Level 1Level 2Level 3Level 4
Household   
 Selected Persons  
  Health Literacy 
  Conditions 
  Medications 
  Alcohol - Day consumed 
   Alcohol - Type consumed

Non-Indigenous flag

The purpose of the population data item "Non-Indigenous flag" is to assist users in producing non-Indigenous data only. It should not be used to estimate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations through differencing, as the scope of the National Health Survey excludes Very Remote areas of Australia and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Note on continuous items

Some continuous data items are allocated special codes for certain responses (e.g. 9999 = 'Not applicable'). When creating ranges for such continuous items for use in the TableBuilder, these special codes will NOT be included in these ranges. Any special codes for continuous (summation) data items are listed in the Data Item List (DIL) and will be found in the categorical version of the continuous item. However, note that labelling of '0's in the DIL does not necessarily mean they are excluded from the ranges (for example - identifying 0 as 'Did not visit' or 'Did not do') as they may still be important in some calculations. Reference should be made to the categorical version of the item to identify which codes are specifically excluded. Therefore the total shown only represents 'valid responses' of that continuous data item rather than all responses (including special codes).

For example:

'Systolic blood pressure' is located both in the Selected Persons level folder...

Location of the categorical item 'Systolic blood pressure' in the Selected Persons level folder

...and the Summation Options.

Location of 'Systolic blood pressure' continuous data item in the Summation Options folder

The following table shows the responses for 'Systolic Blood Pressure' by 'Sex of person'. The continuous values of the data item are contained in the 'A valid response was recorded' row. If the actual continuous values are to be displayed, it is necessary to create a range for them. For information on constructing ranges, see the TableBuilder, User Guide (cat. no. 1406.0.55.005).

Table of the responses for 'Systolic blood pressure (mmHG)' by 'Sex of person'.

Here is the same table with a range applied for the continuous values of 'Systolic blood pressure' (Ranged systolic example). Note that the numbers of respondents for the response 'Not applicable' no longer contribute to the table. 

Table of ranged continuous component of 'Systolic blood pressure (mmHG)' by 'Sex of person'

Continuous items can be used to create custom categories in 'My Custom Data' by first ranging the item. For example, creating five year age groupings can be done by ranging the item with a five year increment. However, deviating from groupings of equal increments must be done in 'My Custom Data'. As age is a continuous item, it must first be ranged (for example in one year increments). This ranged item can then be grouped under the 'My Custom Data' tab to form unique age categories. For more information, see the 'My Custom Data' section of the TableBuilder, User Guide (cat. no. 1406.0.55.005).

Multi-response data item

Some of the survey's data items allow respondents to provide more than one response. These items are referred to as 'multi–response' data items. When a multi-response data item is tabulated, a person is counted against each response they have provided (e.g. a person may have more than one disability). Therefore, the total for a multi-response data item will be less than or equal to the sum of its components.

The table below shows the number of persons with one or more disability. A person can be counted multiple times, once for each disability they have, with the result that the total does not equal the sum of the contributing cells. 

Multiple response table of Disability type

Confidentiality features in TableBuilder

In accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, all the data in TableBuilder are subjected to a confidentiality process before release. This confidentiality process is undertaken to avoid releasing information that may allow the identification of particular individuals, families, households, dwellings or businesses.

Processes used in TableBuilder to confidentialise records include the following: 

  • perturbation of data
  • table suppression.

Perturbation effects

To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves small random adjustments of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics.

The introduction of these random adjustments results in tables not summing to totals. While some datasets apply a technique called additivity to give internally consistent results, additivity has not been implemented on this TableBuilder. As a result, randomly adjusted individual cells will be consistent across tables, but the totals in any table will not be the sum of the individual cell values. The size of the difference between summed cells and the relevant total will generally be very small.

Please be aware that the effects of perturbing the data may result in components being larger than their totals. This includes determining proportions.

Table suppression

Some tables generated within TableBuilder may contain a substantial proportion of very low contributors within cells (excluding cells that have counts of zero). When this occurs, all values within the table are suppressed in order to preserve confidentiality. The following error message is displayed at the bottom of the table when table suppression has occurred.

ERROR: The table has been suppressed as it is too sparse
ERROR: table cell values have been suppressed

Weight variables

Two benchmarked weights are provided with the NHS TableBuilder: ‘Households’ and ‘Selected persons (3)’. ‘Selected persons (3)’ is the default summation, which means that this weight is automatically added to the row of any table. In TableBuilder, these weights can be found under the Summation Options category in the left hand pane. TableBuilder only allows one weight to be used at a time.

When analysing a Household level item, you may want to change the summation weight from selected persons to households - for example, if you wanted to know the number of households in a state, rather than the number of persons living in that state. In this case you would add the weight called ‘Households’ from the Summation Options heading. Similarly, the ‘Selected persons (3)’ weight can be found there as well.

Location of Households and Selected persons weights under Summation Options in the left hand pane

Caution should be used when applying the ‘Household’ weight to items from other levels. For example, if the household weight is applied to a selected person level demographic item, such as ‘Sex’, your table will show the number of households with one or more selected persons of that sex. Since up to two people can be selected in the NHS, this will result in some households being counted twice, once for females and once for males.

Sex of person weighted using Household weight

Using the Basic CURF

About the Basic CURF

The NHS 2017–18 Basic CURF contains unit records relating to all of the survey respondents. The data are released under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, which has provision for the release of data in the form of unit records where the information is not likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. Accordingly, there are no names or addresses of survey respondents on the CURF and other steps, including the following list of actions, have been taken to protect the confidentiality of respondents: 

  • the level of detail of many data items has been reduced by grouping, ranging or top coding values
  • some unusual records have been changed to protect against identification
  • excluding some data items that were collected

The nature of the changes made, and the relatively small number of records involved, ensure that the effects on data for analysis purposes is considered negligible. These changes also mean that estimates produced from the Basic CURF may differ from those published in National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001), subsequent publications and the TableBuilder.

Accessing basic CURFs

Approved users can access basic CURFs via the MicrodataDownload page. To apply for access to the Basic CURF, follow the instructions via the Microdata Entry Page.

Counts and weights

Number of records by level, NHS 2017-18 Basic CURF
LEVELSRECORD COUNTS (UNWEIGHTED)WEIGHTED COUNTS (if applicable)
Household level16 3769 268 534
Person level (Selected persons)21 31524 103 016
Alcohol Day27 848N/A
Alcohol Type30 343N/A
Conditions level87 107N/A
Medication level52 901N/A
Health Literacy level5 79018 655 100

Weights and hierarchical files

Weight variables

There are three weight variables on the file:

Household Weight (NHSFHHWT) - Household level - Benchmarked
Person Weight (NHIFINWT) - Selected Person level - Benchmarked to the total population.
Health Literacy Person Weight (HLSFINWT) - Health Literacy level - Benchmarked to the total population 18 years and over.

There is no weight associated with the other levels. This is because the records are repeated for each person. If, for example, NHSFINWT is merged onto the Conditions level, it will be attached to each condition record and therefore be repeated for each person where they have more than one condition. This should be considered when producing tables. See 'Copying information across levels' below for more information.

For more information about weights, see 'Reliability of Estimates' below.

Using weights

The NHS is a sample survey, so to produce estimates for the in-scope population you must use weight fields in your calculations. When analysing a Household level item at the household level, you will need to use the household weight. For example, if you wanted to know the number of households in a state, rather than the number of persons living in that state.

Caution should be used when applying the ‘Household’ weight to items from other levels. For example, if the household weight is applied to a selected person level demographic item, such as ‘Sex’, your table will show the number of households with one or more selected persons of that sex. Since up to two people can be selected in the NHS, this will result in some households being counted twice, once for females and once for males.

Level of Data ItemEstimates if use Household WeightEstimates if use Person WeightEstimates if use with Health Literacy person weight
Household levelHouseholds with the specified characteristics.Persons in households with the specified characteristics.Not applicable for use on this level
Person level (Selected persons)Households containing one or more selected persons with the specified characteristics.Persons with the specified characteristics.Not applicable for use on this level
Alcohol DayHouseholds containing one or more selected persons with one or more alcohol days with the specified characteristics.Persons with one or more alcohol days with the specified characteristics.Not applicable for use on this level
Alcohol TypeHouseholds containing one or more selected persons with one or more alcohol types with the specified characteristics.Persons with one or more alcohol types with the specified characteristics.Not applicable for use on this level
Conditions levelHouseholds containing one or more selected persons with one or more conditions with the specified characteristics.Persons with one or more conditions with the specified characteristics.Not applicable for use on this level
Medication levelHouseholds containing one or more selected persons with one or more medications with the specified characteristics.Persons with one or more medications with the specified characteristics.Not applicable for use on this level
Health Literacy levelNot applicable for use on this levelNot applicable for use on this levelPersons, 18 years and over with specified Health Literacy characteristic

Identifiers

Every record on each level of the file is uniquely identified.

The identifiers ABSHIDB, ABSPID, ABSDID, ABSTID, ABSCID, ABSMID and ABSHID appear on all levels of the file. Where the information for the identifier is not relevant for a level, it has a value of 0. See the Data Item List for details on which ID equates to which level.

Each household has a unique thirteen digit random identifier, ABSHIDB. This identifier appears on the household level and is repeated on each level on each record pertaining to that household. The combination of identifiers uniquely identifies a record at a particular level as shown below.

  1. Household = ABSHIDB
  2. Person = ABSHIDB + ABSPID
  3. Alcohol Day = ABSHIDB + ABSPID + ABSDID
  4. Alcohol Type = ABSHIDB + ABSPID + ABSDID + ABSTID
  5. Conditions = ABSHIDB + ABSPID + ABSCID
  6. Medication = ABSHIDB + ABSPID + ABSMID
  7. Health Literacy = ABSHIDB + ABSPID + ABSHID

The Household record identifier, ABSHIDB, assists with linking people from the same household, and also with household characteristics such as geography (located on the household level) to the Person records. When merging data with a level above, only those identifiers relevant to the level above are required.

Copying information across levels

The following SAS code is an example of copying information from a lower level to a level above:

PROC SORT DATA=NHS17B.NHS17CNB OUT=SORTED_COB; /* Create a sorted temporary dataset based on the Conditions level */
BY ABSHIDB ABSPID ABSCID;

DATA TOT_LTC (KEEP=ABSHIDB ABSPID ABSCID LONGTERM); /* Create a count of diagnosed, long-term conditions */
SET SORTED_COB;
BY ABSHIDB ABSPID; /* This step will go through each Condition record within each unique combination of ABSHIDB, ABSPID */
RETAIN LONGTERM;

IF FIRST.ABSPID THEN
DO;
LONGTERM=0;
END;

IF CONDSTAT=1 THEN LONGTERM=LONGTERM+1; /* Starts a count of the number of diagnosed, long-term conditions */

IF LAST.ABSPID THEN OUTPUT; /* This outputs the last record including the totals found for each unique combination of ABSHIDB and ABSPID */

PROC SORT DATA=NHS17B.NHS17SPB OUT=SORTED_SPB; /* Create a sorted temporary dataset based on the Selected persons level */
BY ABSHIDB ABSPID;

DATA MRGFILES;
MERGE TOT_LTC SORTED_SPB;
BY ABSHIDB ABSPID;

PROC FREQ DATA=MRGFILES; /* This procedure gives a sample count of the data copied up from the Condition level to the Selected persons level */
TABLES LONGTERM /NOROW NOCOL NOCUM NOPERCENT;

RUN;

The new variable LONGTERM gives a count of the number of diagnosed, long-term conditions per selected person on the Selected persons level. This new item can then be analysed with any other item on the Selected persons level.

The following SAS code is an example of copying information from a higher level to a level below:

PROC SORT DATA=NHS17B.NHS17SPB OUT=SORTED_SPB (KEEP=ABSHIDB ABSPID AGEB SEX);

BY ABSHIDB ABSPID;

PROC SORT DATA=NHS17B.NHS17MDB OUT=SORTED_MDB;
BY ABSHIDB ABSPID ABSMID;

DATA MRGFILES;
MERGE SORTED_MDB SORTED_SPB;
BY ABSHIDB ABSPID;

RUN;

This merge matches one Person record to many Medications records. The data items copied from the person level ('AGEB' and 'SEX' in the example) will be repeated for the counting unit of the level they have been added to, Medications in this case. Each Medications record will therefore receive the same AGEB and SEX of the Person they belong to.

Multi-response items

A number of questions in the survey allowed respondents to provide one or more responses. Each response category for these multi-response data items is treated as a separate data item. On the CURF, these data items share the same identifier (SAS name) prefix but are each separately suffixed with a letter - A for the first response, B for the second response, C for the third response and so on.

For example, the multi-response data item 'Disability type' has six response categories (excluding 'Not applicable'). There are six data items named DISABA, DISABB, DISABC...DISABF. Each data item in the series will have either a positive response code or a null response code, with the exception of the first item in the series, DISABA. DISABA has three potential response codes: the positive response code 1 - 'Sight, hearing, speech', the code 0 - null response, as well as the additional response code, code 7 - 'Not applicable'. The remaining items DISAB--F have just the two response codes each. The data item list identifies all multi-response items and lists the corresponding codes with the corresponding response categories.

Note that the sum of individual multi-response categories will be greater than the population applicable to the particular data item as respondents are able to select more than one response.

Reliability of estimates

As the survey was conducted on a sample of private households in Australia, it is important to take account of the method of sample selection when deriving estimates from the CURF. This is particularly important as a person's chance of selection in the survey varied depending on the state or territory in which the person lived. If these chances of selection are not accounted for by use of appropriate weights, the results will be biased. For details on the NHS weighting process, see Weighting, Benchmarking and Estimation in National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18 - Methodology (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001).

Each person record has a main weight (NHIFINWT). This weight indicates how many population units are represented by the sample units. When producing estimates of sub-populations from the CURF, it is essential that they are calculated by adding the weights of persons in each category and not just by counting the sample number in each category. If each person's weight were to be ignored when analysing the data to draw inferences about the population, then no account would be taken of a person's chance of selection or of different response rates across population groups, with the result that the estimates produced could be biased. The application of weights ensures that estimates will conform to an independently estimated distribution of the population by age, by sex, etc. rather than to the distributions within the sample itself.

Each person record on the CURF contains 60 replicate weights in addition to the main weight. Replicate weights can be used to calculate measures of sampling error. For details on sampling error calculations and replicate weights, see Technical Note.

Basic CURF files

ASCII text format files

These files contain the raw confidentialised survey data in comma delimited ASCII text format.

NHS17HHB.csv contains Household level data
NHS17SPB.csv contains Person level data
NHS17A3B.csv contains Alcohol day level data
NHS17A4B.csv contains Alcohol type level data
NHS17CNB.csv contains Conditions level data
NHS17MDB.csv contains Medications level data
NHS17HLB.csv contains Health Literacy level data

SAS files

These files contain the data for the CURF in SAS format.

NHS17HHB.sas7bdat contains Household level data
NHS17SPB.sas7bdat contains Person level data
NHS17A3B.sas7bdat contains Alcohol day level data
NHS17A4B.sas7bdat contains Alcohol type level data
NHS17CNB.sas7bdat contains Conditions level data
NHS17MDB.sas7bdat contains Medications level data
NHS17HLB.sas7bdat contains Health Literacy level data

SPSS files

These files contain the data for the CURF in SPSS format.

NHS17HHB.sav contains Household level data
NHS17SPB.sav contains Person level data
NHS17A3B.sav contains Alcohol day level data
NHS17A4B.sav contains Alcohol type level data
NHS17CNB.sav contains Conditions level data
NHS17MDB.sav contains Medications level data
NHS17HLB.sav contains Actions level data

STATA files

These files contain the data for the CURF in STATA format.

NHS17HHB.dta contains Household level data
NHS17SPB.dta contains Person level data
NHS17A3B.dta contains Alcohol day level data
NHS17A4B.dta contains Alcohol type level data
NHS17CNB.dta contains Conditions level data
NHS17MDB.dta contains Medications level data
NHS17HLB.dta contains Actions level data

Information files

FORMATS.sas7bcat is a SAS library containing formats

NHS17HHB.sas contains a SAS program to load NHS17HHB.csv and the SAS formats into SAS for Windows
NHS17SPB.sas contains a SAS program to load NHS17SPB.csv and the SAS formats into SAS for Windows
NHS17A3B.sas contains a SAS program to load NHS17A3B.csv and the SAS formats into SAS for Windows
NHS17A4B.sas contains a SAS program to load NHS17A4B.csv and the SAS formats into SAS for Windows
NHS17CNB.sas contains a SAS program to load NHS17CNB.csv and the SAS formats into SAS for Windows
NHS17MDB.sas contains a SAS program to load NHS17MDB.csv and the SAS formats into SAS for Windows
NHS17HLB.sas contains a SAS program to load NHS17HLB.csv and the SAS formats into SAS for Windows

IMPORTANT INFORMATION.pdf describes the file contents of the CURF and information on using the CURF
COPYRITE1.bat describes Copyright obligations for CURF users

Frequency files

The following plain text format files contain data item code values and category labels at each level, with frequencies for each value.

FREQUENCIES_NHS17HHB.txt contains Household level data
FREQUENCIES_NHS17SPB.txt contains Person level data
FREQUENCIES_NHS17A4B.txt contains Alcohol day level data
FREQUENCIES_NHS17A4B.txt contains Alcohol type level data
FREQUENCIES_NHS17CNB.txt contains Conditions level data
FREQUENCIES_NHS17MDB.txt contains Medications level data
FREQUENCIES_NHS17HLB.txt contains Health Literacy level data

Using the DataLab

The DataLab allows interactive (real time) access to microdata files from the National Health Survey 2017-18, through a portal to a secure ABS environment. The level of detail provided within the DataLab exceeds that of the Basic CURF and provides researchers greater access to the data.

The DataLab is an interactive data analysis solution available for users to run advanced statistical analyses, for example, multiple regressions and structural equation modelling. The DataLab environment contains up-to-date versions of SPSS, Stata, SAS and R analytical languages. Controls in the DataLab have been put in place to protect the identification of individuals and organisations. These controls include environmental protections, data de-identification and confidentialisation, access safe guards and output clearance. All output from DataLab sessions is cleared by an ABS officer before it is released.

For more information about the DataLab, please see the About the DataLab page on the ABS website.

The Expanded CURF and the use of the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) have been discontinued for this collection. Users are encouraged to consider the DataLab as an improved mechanism to access detailed microdata.

DataLab test file

A Test File has been created to enable researchers and analysts to become more familiar with the data structure and prepare code and programs prior to applying for, or commencing, a DataLab session. This aims to maximise the value of sessions by saving users time and resources once they enter the DataLab environment.

The Test File does not contain real data, and cannot be used for analysis. It mimics the structure of the microdata from the Collection as it has the same data items and allowed values. All data on the file is false, created through a randomisation process. Proportions of values within data items in the Test File will be similar to those in the real data, however, relationships between data items will not be intentionally maintained. It is extremely unlikely that a record in the Test File would match with a genuine record in the real data.

The Test File is available as a free download through the Data downloads section. The Test File may also be available in other file formats on request.

For further information users should email microdata.access@abs.gov.au or telephone 1300 135 070.

Data item lists

Data item lists are available on the Downloads tab for the TableBuilder, Basic CURF and Detailed Microdata (DataLab). These show the data items available and what each data item value indicates in the data.

Each worksheet of the data item lists indicates a level of data (e.g. Household, Conditions, Medications) or a grouping of like data about a selected person (e.g. Demographics, Education, Employment, Health, Risk Factors, Physical Measurements).

A glossary of definitions for the data items can be found in National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18 - Glossary (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001).

For confidentiality and/or usability reasons, some data item values have been collapsed and/or restricted for use on the microdata products. Additionally, data may have been masked on the Basic CURFs to prevent identification of persons.

Conditions of use

User responsibilites

The Census and Statistics Act 1905 includes a legislative guarantee to respondents that their confidentiality will be protected. This is fundamental to the trust the Australian public has in the ABS, and that trust is in turn fundamental to the excellent quality of ABS information. Without that trust, survey respondents may be less forthcoming or truthful in answering our questionnaires. For more information, see 'Avoiding inadvertent disclosure in published statistics' and 'Microdata' on our web page How the ABS keeps your information confidential.

Confidentiality

In accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, microdata are subjected to a confidentiality process before release. The release of microdata must satisfy the ABS legislative obligation to release information in a manner that is not likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation.

This confidentiality process is applied to avoid releasing information that may lead to the identification of individuals, families, households, dwellings or businesses.

TableBuilder

Prior to being granted access to TableBuilder, users must agree to the following ABS Terms and Conditions of TableBuilder Access: 

  • understand that the ABS has taken great care to ensure that the information on the survey output record file is correct and as accurate as possible, and understand that the ABS does not guarantee, or accept any legal liability whatsoever arising from, or connected to, the use of any material contained within, or derived from TableBuilder
  • understand that all data extracted from the Survey Output Record File through TableBuilder will be confidentialised prior to being supplied and that as a result, no reliance should be placed on small cells as they are impacted by random adjustment, respondent and processing errors
  • inform the ABS, through their Contact Officer, upon leaving their organisation that their access is disabled
  • not to provide their TableBuilder user ID and password access to any other person or organisation.

Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURF)

The Census and Statistics Act 1905 allows the Australian Statistician to approve release of unit record data. All CURFs released have been approved by the Statistician. Prior to being granted access to CURFs, each organisation's Responsible Officer must submit a CURF Undertaking to the ABS. The CURF Undertaking is required by legislation and states that, prior to CURFs being released to an organisation, a Responsible Officer must undertake to ensure that the organisation will abide by the conditions of use of CURFs. Individual users are bound by the undertaking signed by the Responsible Officer.

All CURF users are required to read and abide by the conditions and restrictions in the Responsible Use of ABS Microdata, User Guide (cat. no. 1406.0.55.003). Any breach of the CURF undertaking may result in withdrawal of service to individuals and/or organisations. Further information is contained in the Consequences of Failing to Comply with a Microdata Undertaking web page.

All ABS products and services are provided subject to the ABS Conditions of Sale. Any queries relating to these Conditions of Sale should be referred to intermediary.management@abs.gov.au.

DataLab

Prior to using the DataLab users must agree to and sign an Undertaking and a Declaration of Compliance.

For more information on the DataLab, please refer to the About the DataLab page on the ABS Website.

Price

Microdata access is priced according to the ABS Pricing Policy and Commonwealth Cost Recovery Guidelines. For microdata prices, refer to the Microdata Entry Page.

How to apply for access

To apply for access to microdata products, follow the registration instructions which are available via the Microdata Entry Page.

Australian universities

The ABS/Universities Australia Agreement provides participating universities with access to a range of ABS products and services. This includes access to microdata. For further information, university clients should refer to the ABS/Universities Australia Agreement web page.

Further information

The Microdata Entry Page on the ABS website contains links to microdata related information to assist users to understand and access microdata. For further information, users should email microdata.access@abs.gov.au or telephone 1300 135 070.

Data downloads

Data files

Previous releases

 TableBuilderdata seriesMicrodataDownloadDataLab
National Health Survey, 2014-15TableBuilderBasic microdataDetailed microdata
Australian Health Survey, National Health Survey, 2011-12TableBuilderBasic microdataDetailed microdata
Australian Health Survey, Core Content - Risk Factors and Selected Health Conditions, 2011-12TableBuilder Detailed microdata
National Health Survey, 2007-08 Basic microdataDetailed microdata
National Health Survey, 2004-05 Basic microdataDetailed microdata
National Health Survey, 2001 Basic microdataBasic microdata
National Health Survey, 1995 Basic microdata 
National Health Survey, 1989-90 Basic microdata 
National Health Survey, 1983 Basic microdata 
National Health Survey, 1977-78 Basic microdata 

History of changes

Show all

27/06/2019 

The NHS17 Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURF) are now available for download via the MicrodataDownload page. To apply for access to the Basic CURF, follow the instructions via the Microdata Entry Page.

Information pertaining to the release date of the Basic CURF data files on "Using the Basic CURF" web page have been updated. No other changes have been made, or additional information added.

Quality declaration

Institutional environment

The National Health Survey is released as a Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF), TableBuilder and as a Detailed Microdata product in the DataLab. Microdata files are released in accordance with the conditions specified in the Statistics Determination section of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. This ensures that confidentiality is maintained whilst enabling micro level data to be released. More information on the confidentiality practices associated with CURFs can be found on the About CURF Microdata page. More information on the confidentiality practices associated with TableBuilder can be found on the Confidentiality page of the TableBuilder, User Guide (cat. no. 1406.0.55.005). More information on the confidentiality practices associated with microdata from the DataLab can be found on the Using the DataLab page.

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

Relevance

Microdata from the National Health Survey, 2017-18 are available in TableBuilder, a Basic CURF and Detailed Microdata (DataLab). These microdata include information on household demographics, Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), education qualifications, occupation, industry, country of birth, general dietary information, physical measurements, long-term medical conditions and health risk factors including physical activity, alcohol and smoking use. The level of detail and availability of some data items vary between products. For more information on the level of detail available for each product, refer to the data item lists in the Data downloads section.

Timeliness

The 2017-18 National Health Survey (NHS) was conducted between July 2017 and June 2018. The microdata products are being released approximately 10 months after enumeration was completed.

Accuracy

The microdata contain levels of detail of data items generally greater than those found in publications. For more information on the level of detail provided for the microdata, see the associated data item lists in the Data downloads section of this product.

Steps have been taken to confidentialise the microdata to protect the confidentiality of selected respondents while maintaining accuracy. Data may have been collapsed, restricted, perturbed or otherwise masked to ensure respondents cannot be identified. As a result, it may not be possible to reconcile all statistics produced from the microdata with each other, or other published statistics.

Coherence

Results from the most recent household survey on this topic can be found in National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001). Information related to the NHS 2014-15 can be found in National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001). Data from earlier Health Surveys can be obtained by contacting the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Much of the content of the health surveys conducted by the ABS since 2001 is comparable. There are some differences in sample design, survey methodology (including definitions and classifications), and survey content, that may have an effect on the interpretation of apparent changes in health characteristics.

Interpretability

The information within this product should be referred to when using the microdata. It contains information including Survey methodology, File structure, Using the TableBuilder, Using the Basic CURF, Using the DataLab, Conditions of Use and the Data Item Lists.

Accessibility

Microdata products are available to approved users. Users wishing to access the microdata should familiarise themselves with the information available via the Microdata Entry Page.

NHS 2017-18 can be accessed using TableBuilder, a Basic CURF and Detailed Microdata (DataLab).

Any questions regarding access to microdata can be forwarded to microdata.access@abs.gov.au or phone 1300 135 070.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4324.0.55.001.