Technical notes

About the ABS National Health Survey

This web report contains results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey (NHS) 2017–18, collected between July 2017 to June 2018.

The 2017–18 NHS is the most recent in a series of Australia-wide health surveys conducted by the ABS. It was designed to collect a range of information about the health of Australians, including:

  • prevalence of long-term health conditions
  • health risk factors such as smoking, overweight and obesity, alcohol consumption and exercise
  • use of health services such as consultations with health practitioners and actions people have recently taken for their health
  • demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

The 2017–18 NHS collected data on children and adults living in private dwellings but excluded persons living in non-private dwellings, very remote areas and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

For further information, refer to the ABS National Health Survey: First Results, 2017–18.

The full data quality statement for the NHS 2017–18.

Primary Health Networks

This release includes the following indicator by Primary Health Network (PHN):

Lifetime risky alcohol consumption

  • Percentage of adults who consume more than two standard drinks per day on average.

Lifetime risky alcohol consumption was determined if alcohol consumption exceeded the 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines for reducing health risks associated with alcohol consumption.

The guidelines recommend that healthy men and women drink no more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol per day on average, to reduce their lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.

Daily smokers

  • Percentage of adults who are daily smokers.

Participants in the ABS NHS 2014–15 were asked whether they currently smoked at least once per day. A current daily smoker was defined as a person who smokes one or more cigarettes, roll-your-own cigarettes, cigars or pipes at least once a day. Chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes (and similar) and the smoking of non-tobacco products were excluded.

About the data

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are local organisations that connect health services across a specific geographic area, with the boundaries defined by the Australian Government Department of Health.

The quality of estimates from the NHS can vary across PHN areas, as the survey was not specifically designed to produce estimates at this level of geography.

As an indication of the accuracy of proportions, 95% confidence intervals were produced. These were calculated by the ABS using relative standard error (RSE) estimates of the proportion.

To ensure robust reporting of these data by PHN areas, suppression or interpret with caution rules were developed and applied by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Estimates of a percentage or its complement that had a relative standard error greater than 50% were suppressed. These estimates were considered unreliable for most practical purposes.

Data for PHN areas were suppressed if there was the likelihood of a non-representative sample, that is, where the survey sample count in the PHN area was less than 20% of the expected number of adults.

The ‘interpret with caution’ flag was applied to the data if the relative standard error associated with the percentage or its complement was greater than 25%. This indicates the proportion derived is subject to high sampling error and should be used with caution.

Data for Northern Territory should be interpreted with caution as the NHS excluded discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and very remote areas, which comprise around 28% of the estimated resident population of the Northern Territory.