2011/13 Australian Health Survey
About the survey
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in close consultation with the Department of Health and Ageing, is conducting the Australian Health Survey—the most comprehensive study of the health of Australians ever undertaken.
The survey is funded through the combination of ABS health survey program funding and additional funds from the Department of Health and Ageing and the National Heart Foundation of Australia.
In total, the Australian Health Survey will collect information from about 50,000 adults and children all across Australia. Interviewers from the ABS will visit people in their homes to conduct personal interviews asking questions about topics such as demographics, risk factors, health status, medications, chronic diseases, use of health services, and nutrition and physical activity habits.
After completing the household interview, eligible participants will be invited to consider taking part in the biomedical component of the survey. This component will be conducted on an entirely voluntary basis and involves participants attending a local pathology centre to provide a sample of blood and urine in the usual fashion.
The blood and urine samples collected in the survey will be analysed for a number of markers of chronic disease such as high or low levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and kidney function, and markers of nutrition status such as iron and folate. Samples will not be tested for illegal drugs, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections or forensic identification. The tests will not indicate if participants have a disease like cancer.
Survey participants will receive a copy of their results and can nominate a doctor who they would like to be sent a copy. There is no cost to participants for the blood and urine tests, and participants may claim a small reimbursement towards costs associated with participating (e.g. travel, child care).
For further information on the Australian Health Survey, visit the ABS website
or contact the Department of Health and Ageing at email@example.com
Survey Rationale and Objectives
The 2011-13 Australian Health Survey is the first in a new survey series; it expands upon the traditional ABS National Health Survey series to focus on chronic diseases and their prevention. The rationale and policy context for expanding the National Health Survey is provided in the paper: Australian Health Survey: rationale for expanding the National Health Survey series
. In this paper, the objectives for the Australian Health Survey are described and the information requirements for the new survey components outlined. Australian Health Survey: rationale for expanding the National Health Survey series (PDF 328 KB)
Australian Health Survey: rational for expanding the National Health Survey series (HTML)
The inclusion of a biomedical component in the survey provides significant benefits over the collection of self-reported data alone. Biomedical data enables the prevalence of chronic diseases and associated risk factors to be estimated and associations between behaviours (such as physical activity, dietary habits or smoking) and chronic disease and nutrition status to be analysed. The inclusion of biomedical samples in the Australian Health Survey brings Australia in to line with health surveys in the U.S., Canada, England and New Zealand.
The report entitiled: Biomedical component of the Australian Health Survey: Public health objectives - January 2011
provides information on the tests that will be conducted on the blood and urine samples and their relevance to public health. Biomedical component of the Australian Health Survey: Public health objectives - January 2011(PDF 260 KB)
Biomedical component of the Australian Health Survey: Public health objectives - January 2011 (HTML)
Vitamin D Standardization Program(VDSP)
The Australian Health Survey is participating in an international Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP). The VDSP is being led by the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States. One of the key aims of the VDSP is to study the differences and similarities in serum vitamin D [25(OH)D] distributions around the world.
A key first step in the VDSP is standardising the serum vitamin D measurements from the different health surveys to a certified reference measurement procedure developed by NIST. This will involve (but is not limited to) the CDC Vitamin D Standardization Coordinating Center (VDSCC) creating reference serum materials that can be used to calibrate laboratories measuring 25(OH)D in the different health surveys internationally.
While the main focus of the VDSP is currently on standardising vitamin D measurements in national health surveys, it also allows for participation of clinical, public health, research and commercial laboratories and commercial trade organizations in the standardization effort.
Associate Professor Robyn Lucas from the Australian National University has made an important contribution to the Program by representing the Australian Health Survey in a Protocol Development Sub-committee.
Further details on the VDSP are available in a poster (PDF 171 KB)
prepared by the CDC and NIH.
2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey
The Department of Health and Ageing, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), each contributed $1 million to fund the 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.
The CSIRO and the University of South Australia were jointly contracted to implement the survey and report on the results. A steering group of representatives from the funding agencies was established to oversee the survey’s management. In addition, a group of technical and scientific experts provided advice to ensure that the data collection and analysis processes were robust and undertaken independently.
Data from the survey provides the information needed for public and private sectors to work together to develop targeted strategies to address a range of health concerns in children.
In June 2010, the Department of health and Ageing commissioned the CSIRO to conduct additional analysis of the 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey in order to enable comparisons between present data with that of past and future data and to identify additional areas for health promotion with this age group.
The additional analysis builds on the 2007 Main Findings Report and provides more extensive tabulations and examination of the data as identified in the main findings report.
Publications related to the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey:
Access to the results database is available through the Australian Social Sciences Data Archive (ASSDA)
at the Australian National University.
1995 National Nutrition Survey
The last National Nutrition Survey was conducted in conjunction with the National Health Survey in 1995 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Health and Ageing. The results were released between 1997 and 1999.
The Australian Food and Nutrition Monitoring Unit were funded by the Department to undertake the National Food and Nutrition Monitoring Project. The Unit was comprised of a consortium of Universities including staff from relevant specialty areas within the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney and Deakin University. This survey resulted in a series of reports which provided a basis for a coordinated national food and nutrition information framework and bridged some important gaps in the overall picture of nutrition monitoring and surveillance in Australia.
The publications were developed as a result of consultation with stakeholders through an Advisory Committee comprising of members from the Department of Health and Ageing, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the University of Queensland, the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the National Public Health Partnership’s Strategic Inter-Governmental Nutrition Alliance. Additional consultations were conducted for some individual reports including the use of technical working groups, reviewers and contributions from key stakeholders in government and non-government agencies.
A total of 13 publications
were produced and are available in PDF format or hard copy.