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Newsletters - Health Statistics News - No 45, June 2001




The annual Private Health Establishments Collection (PHEC) is currently under review. This is in line with ABS's broad strategic direction to undertake regular reviews so that all collections continue to produce high quality output which is both relevant and responsive to client's needs. The review is focused on the inter-related issues of reducing the current substantial load and ensuring that only essential data items are collected.The outcomes from the review will apply to the collection of 2000-2001 data, which will be released in June 2002.

The first stage of the review, focusing on the content of the collection, is well advanced. A meeting with major stakeholders in November 2000 identified content changes and reductions consistent with current user requirements for data about the private health sector. Draft copies of the revised collection forms are about to be distributed to stakeholders for final comments.

The second stage of the review will consider the future dissemination of PHEC data. The ABS will reassess the data most appropriate for dissemination in the annual publication and investigate how the provision of other data could be enhanced by more flexible electronic output, for example. Decisions on the PHEC dissemination strategy will take into account advice from the major stakeholders involved in the process.

Data from 1998-99 are available from Private Hospitals, Australia (ABS Catalogue Number 4390.0).

For further information:

Contact: Heather Fox (07) 3222 6168

Nutrition during pregnancy is a vital factor influencing the health of the mother and infant. An adequate intake of nutrients helps to minimise the risk of birth defects, low-birthweight infants and complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The 1995 National Nutrition Survey revealed that the food and beverage consumption patterns of pregnant women differed from non- pregnant women, with pregnant women tending to avoid certain foods and consuming more of others. For example,
  • the average energy intake for pregnant women was 13.2% higher than for non-pregnant women;
  • only 5% of pregnant women skipped breakfast, compared to 14% of non-pregnant women;
  • pregnant women were less likely to drink alcohol, tea, coffee and soft drinks, and more likely to drink fruit and vegetable juices, than women who were not pregnant.

An article, titled "Food and nutrient consumption during pregnancy", is included in the current issue of Births, Australia: 1999 (catalogue No. 3301.0) It contains information on frequency of eating occasions, consumption of selected foods and beverages, and intake of macronutrients and micronutrients.

For further information:

Contact: Tim Carlton (02) 6252 6967

The ABS has run 4 National health surveys, as well as a wide range of other surveys with a health focus. The ABS disseminates some information from these surveys through publications. However there is a wide range of other information available from these surveys.

On request, the ABS can generate data from these surveys. There is a charge for this service. Alternatively, people may like access to the unit record data, to generate their own data. The ABS has a number of historical Health Survey Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFS). To protect the confidentiality of respondents, these CURFs do not contain all the data collected in these surveys, but rather contains that data which will not enable users to identify individual respondents (for example, detailed geography is not available as this would increase the likelihood of identifying a respondent).

CURFs are available on CD-ROM. Each CD-ROMs contain the main unit record data, technical documentation and programs to load the data into SAS or SPSS. The following historical Health Survey CURFS are available:
  • 1977/78 National Health Survey CURF
  • 1983 National Health Survey CURF
  • 1989/90 National Health Survey CURF
  • 1995 National Health Survey CURF
  • 1995 National Nutrition Survey CURF
  • 1997 National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being.

To support academic research and teaching in Australian universities the ABS has an agreement with the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee (AVCC) to make available Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFS). The agreement allows participating university clients access to CURFS for research purposes.

For more information contact Carolyn Kennedy, on telephone 02 6252 5853, or by email

For non-university clients the Health Survey CURFS are available for purchase at the following price:
  • 1977/78 National Health Survey CURF = $1, 080.00
  • 1983 National Health Survey CURF = $1,080.00
  • 1989/90 National Health Survey CURF = $5,400.00
  • 1995 National Health Survey CURF = $8,000.00
  • 1995 National Nutrition Survey CURF = $8,000.00
  • 1997 National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being = $8,000.00

CURFs are not available to overseas institutions. 1995 National Health Survey: Indigenous Persons Output Development File.

For confidentiality reasons the ABS was unable to release information on Indigenous persons in the 1995 NHS CURF. Instead the ABS has developed an Indigenous Persons Output Development File containing a subset of the full indigenous sample of the 1995 National Health Survey (NHS). The aim of this file is to enable users to investigate and refine their output data requirements, and to prepare and test SAS code to produce that output. That code,if submitted to the ABS, will be run against the full Indigenous persons file from the survey, and output provided.

The Indigenous Persons Output Development File is available free of charge; production of output by ABS from the full Indigenous persons file will be charged at standard ABS rates. However, by supplying ABS with the computer code to produce the output it is expected that costs to users can be minimised.

For further information:

Contact: Leah Robinson (02) 6252 7534

Enumeration of the 2001 National Health Survey (NHS) commenced in mid February and will continue through to December 2001. Results from the survey are expected to be released from September 2002.

This is the 5th large scale survey of health conducted by the ABS since 1977. The survey will be conducted in about 20,000 private dwellings throughout Australia.

There will be an Indigenous supplement to the NHS in 2001 to provide information about the health of Indigenous people. Information will be asked of approximately 2,800 Indigenous adults and children from across Australia, including remote areas. This supplementary Indigenous survey will be conducted between June and November 2001, with a separate publication of results comparing Indigenous and non-Indigenous health to be released from October 2002.

The NHS has been developed in consultation with a range of government, health professional, academic, industry and community organisations, to ensure it addresses the highest priority health information needs. It seeks information about the health status of Australians of all ages, focusing on the National Health Priority Areas of asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, mental health and injuries. It also collects information on the use of health services and aspects of lifestyle which may affect people's health, including some preventive health behaviours.

A list of topics proposed for the NHS is available from the March/June 2000 No. 43. A list of topics can also be obtained on request from the contacts shown below.

For further information on the NHS:

Contact : Mike Langan (02) 6252 6403

For further information on the NHS Indigenous supplement:

Contact: Marie Grealy (02) 6252 5943

The Australian Food and Nutrition Monitoring Unit is undertaking a program of work to establish a national food and nutrition monitoring system for Australia, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care.

The Unit has recently conducted a bridging study between the 1995 National Nutrition Survey (NNS) conducted by the ABS and National Dietary Surveys conducted in 1983 and 1985. This Study assesses the impact of key differences in methods between the three surveys on nutrient intake estimates. The principal finding is that it isinappropriate to directly compare published results from the surveys. Allowances need to be made for the differences in sample design, data collection methods, food classification and coding practices and for changes in the food composition database. Once these differences have been taken into account, comparisons can be made between children's diets in 1983 and 1995, and adult diets in 1985 and 1995. Two reports are being prepared from the bridging study. A technical report, outlining methods used to compare the results of the three surveys, is being completed together with a companion report highlighting key results.

The Unit is also evaluating selected short questions on dietary habits used in 1995 NNS and those used in the Tasmanian Food and Nutrition Study.

Further details about these projects and about the Monitoring Unit can be obtained from the web site:

Copies of completed reports are also available from this web site including:
  • the work plan [product P1]
  • the Food and Nutrition Data Sources Catalogue [product P2]
  • Getting it Right - how to use the data from the 1995 National Nutrition Survey [product P3]
  • Interim Evaluation of the Voluntary Folate Fortification Policy and Trends in Neural Tube Defects in Australia [product P8] and
  • 1999 Annual Report [product P15]

For further information:

Contact: Tricia Cook (07) 3365 5403

1997 and 1998 mortality data classified to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10), are now available.

The ABS introduced ICD-10 for classifying deaths registered in Australia from 1 January 1999. Data coded according to the new Classification was featured in Causes of Death, Australia, 1999 (Cat. No 3303.0), which was issued on 11 December 2000.

The introduction of ICD-10 came two years after Australia introduced automated mortality coding for deaths registered from 1 January 1997, using the Mortality Medical Data System (MMDS) developed by the National Centre for Health Statistics (NCHS) in the USA. The use of MMDS for mortality processing, facilitated the production of multiple causes of death statistics as well as providing the potential for improved consistency of coding and enhanced international comparability in mortality statistics.

In addition to the introduction of ICD-10, the ABS also undertook to recode all 1997 and 1998 deaths to ICD-10. This exercise has enabled a "time series" of ICD-10 data to be created from the introduction of MMDS, as well as providing a means of gaining a better appreciation of the relationship between ICD-9 and ICD-10 coded data.

For further information:

Contact Peter Burke on 1800 620 963.

In late 2000, the ABS distributed a discussion paper entitled Measuring Social Capital: Current Collections and Future Directions, to a wide range of government agencies, academic institutions and academics with the aim to invite responses about the following:
  • Key social issues and policy questions that might benefit from information on social capital;
  • The usefulness of the proposed list of data items for measuring social capital;
  • The suitability of current ABS data and survey collections for obtaining information on social capital; and
  • Important information gaps on social capital which might be filled by future ABS collections.

To date the ABS has received nearly fifty responses and continues to receive enquiries on a weekly basis. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive, with the majority keen to see the ABS continue their activities in regards to social capital. The general consensus was that social capital is a concept of increasing importance and relevance in the measure of a nation's well being, although there is further debate to be held on some issues relating to social capital.

ABS has recently allocated funding over the next three years to undertake developmental work on social capital. The next steps, to maintain the initial momentum, are outlined below:
  • A feedback report which details the comments made in response to the original discussion paper will be provided to respondents for their general interest shortly.
  • The ABS plans further consultation with users over the coming months to assist with and support our work in progressing the collection of appropriate social capital data in ABS population surveys.

For further information:

Contact: Joanne Hillermann (02) 6252 6316
About This Newsletter

Health Statistics News is a quarterly publication from the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Health Section, Canberra, available to interested individuals or organisations.

If you or your organisation would like to be placed on the Health Statistics Newsletter mailing list, or you would like to receive additional copies of the newsletter, please contact Darren Viskovich at the address shown below and provide your address details and the number of copies requested.

The Health Statistics Newsletter can also be sent to you electronically if you require.If you would like a electronic copy of the Newsletter please forward your email address to Darren Viskovich at the address shown below.

Published by:

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Health Section
PO Box 10

Contact: Darren Viskovich
Ph:(02) 6252 6308
Fax:(02) 6252 8007

4306.0: Apparent Consumption of Foodstuffs, Australia

4433.0: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Disability and Long Term Health Conditions

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