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New Zealanders rate themselves as healthy

3 December 2003 Media Statement

New Zealanders rate themselves as healthy

Health Minister Annette King says provisional results from the 2002-03 New Zealand Health Survey show nine out of 10 New Zealand adults rate their health as good, very good or excellent.

She released a snapshot of the survey’s findings today, and said it highlighted a number of positive aspects about the health of adult New Zealanders.

“That 90 percent of adults consider themselves healthy is certainly an encouraging statistic. It is also great news that half of all adults do 30 minutes or more of physical activity at least five days a week.”

The 2002-03 New Zealand Health Survey is the third in a series of nationwide health surveys carried out by the Ministry of Health. The survey involved
more than 12,500 New Zealand adults and collected information on diseases and risks to health, as well as information on the use of health services.

Ms King says she is also encouraged that two thirds of adults eat the recommended three or more servings of vegetables each day and that half eat the recommended two or more servings of fruit. “The physical activity and nutrition results are important when you consider some of the risk factors highlighted by the survey. The fact that more than half of adults are overweight or obese is something we all need to focus on.”

The snapshot also showed obvious areas for improvement, she said. “One in five are obese and a similar proportion smoke. Almost one in six have potentially hazardous drinking habits, while one in seven used marijuana in the last year.

“The survey will help us measure progress towards our goals of better health, reduced inequalities, and fair access for everyone to health services.”

The snapshot report of the survey is available on www.moh.govt.nz/phi

Questions and Answers

Has there been a New Zealand Health Survey before?
The 2002-03 New Zealand Health Survey is the third nationwide health survey of New Zealand adults aged 15 years and over. Previous surveys were conducted in 1992-93 and 1996-97.

When was this survey conducted?
The survey was conducted between August 2002 and September 2003 by National Research Bureau Ltd (NRB).

What are the new features of this survey?
New features of this survey, compared with previous health surveys, include:

- Information on a wider range of diseases and risks to health, as well as more detail about these conditions (eg, age at diagnosis and treatments)
- Information on a wider range of health services, including the number of visits, satisfaction levels and whether services met peoples’ needs
- Measurement of body weight and height to calculate a body mass index, which allows us to determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity
- More information on how healthy adults see themselves as being

How many people were surveyed?
More than 12,500 adults aged 15 years and over responded to the survey. More people participated in this survey than in previous ones. This provisional report includes information from approximately 12,000 people, of which 3990 were Maori, 790 were Pacific people and 940 were Asian. The results are provisional as a small number of interviews are still being processed.

Did most people who were approached agree to take part?
The New Zealand Health Survey 2002-03 was well received with 74 percent of people approached completing a questionnaire.

How much did it cost to complete the survey?
$3.2 million, which was funded by the Ministry.

Who will use the survey results?
This survey is part of the New Zealand Health Monitor, which is a programme of surveys used by the Ministry to monitor the health of New Zealanders. The survey findings will provide a valuable resource for developing, implementing and monitoring the New Zealand Health Strategy and the New Zealand Disability Strategy. As well as being a valuable resource for the Ministry, it is hoped that the survey findings will be of use to the wider health sector.

Why has the Ministry released a snapshot of the survey results?
The Ministry wanted to release some provisional results from the survey as soon as possible after the final data was collected. Releasing provisional results allows information to be disseminated to the health sector more quickly. The results are provisional as a small number of interviews are still being processed. The snapshot presents key results in plain language and is intended to be accessible to a wide audience, including interested members of the public.

When will further results from the survey be released?
A more extensive report will be released by mid-2004. That report will include descriptive results for all questions by gender and ethnicity. Key questions will also be analysed by age group and deprivation. Following the descriptive report, a further series of reports will look at comparisons with previous surveys as well as examining inter-relationships such as between chronic diseases and risk factors for these diseases. Future analysis will also look at how the survey results relate to District Health Boards (DHBs). However, since analyses for DHBs will require more sophisticated statistical techniques, the results of these analyses will not be provided until after mid-2004.


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