The Health of New Zealand Adults 2011/12

Key findings of the New Zealand Health Survey

Published online: 
12 December 2012

Summary

The report ‘The Health of New Zealand Adults 2011/12’ presents key findings about adults’ health and access to health services in 2011/12. These statistics come from the New Zealand Health Survey.

You can download the report and data tables from the Downloads section of this page. Results are available by sex, age group, ethnic group and neighbourhood deprivation.

Regional results will be available in early 2013.

There is a separate survey report about children.

If you have any queries please email hdi@moh.govt.nz.

Overview of key findings

This section summarises key findings from the report, for the following topics:

Good news

  • Most adults (89%) report that they have excellent, very good or good health.
  • The smoking rate is decreasing, although not in all groups.

Areas for improvement

  • The obesity rate continues to increase.
  • Although most adults can access health care when they need to, one in four had an unmet need for primary health care in the past year.
  • Groups with poorer health and more unmet need for health care included: Māori, Pacific, and adults living in more deprived areas.

Health behaviours and risk factors

Smoking rates continue to decrease

  • 18% of adults were current smokers in 2011/12, down from 20% in 2006/07.  
  • The youth smoking rate dropped from 14% to 6% in the past 5 years.  
  • No change was seen in the Māori smoking rate (41%).

Obesity levels have increased

  • 28% of adults were obese in 2011/12 - about one million adults.  
  • The obesity rate has increased since 2006/07 (26%).

Health status and conditions

Most adults report being in good health

  • 89% of adults reported that they are in good health.

Cardiovascular conditions affect some New Zealand adults

  • 16% of adults take medication for high blood pressure.
  • 10% of adults take medication for high cholesterol.
  • 5% of adults have been diagnosed with ischaemic heart disease.  
  • 2% of adults have had a stroke and survived.

The diabetes rate is slowly increasing over time

  • 5% of adults (almost 200,000 adults) have been diagnosed with diabetes.  The diabetes rate has slowly increased over the past 15 years.

 Mental health disorders are common

  • 16% of adults have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorder and/or bipolar disordered. This rate has increased since 2006/07.
  • 6% of adults had experienced psychological (mental) distress in the past four weeks. This rate has decreased since 2006/07.

Asthma, arthritis and chronic pain each affect more than one in ten NZ adults

  • 11% of adults take medication for asthma.
  • 15% of adults have been diagnosed with arthritis.
  • 16% of adults report having chronic pain.   

Use of primary health care

Most adults have visited a GP in the past 12 months

  • 78% of adults visited a GP in the past 12 months. This rate was lower than in 2006/07.  
  • 31% of adults visited a practice nurse without seeing a GP at the same time in the past 12 months.
  • 13% of adults visited an after-hours medical centre in the past 12 months.  

Unmet need for health care

Most adults were able to access health care

  • However, 27% of adults had an unmet need for primary health care in the past 12 months. The most common causes of this unmet need were that people:
    • were unable to get an appointment at their usual medical centre within 24 hours (16%)
    • did not visit a GP due to the cost (14%)
    • did not visit an after-hours medical centre due to the cost (7%).  
  • Unmet need is more common among Māori, Pacific adults and people living in more deprived areas.

Fewer adults were unable to get an appointment within 24 hours than in 2006/07

  • 16% of adults were unable to get an appointment at their usual medical centre within 24 hours in the past 12 months. This rate dropped from 18% in 2006/07.

Many prescriptions are left unfilled due to cost

  • 8% of adults did not collect one or more prescription items due to cost, in the past 12 months. This affected about 267,000 adults.

Oral health

One in two adults had a dental visit in the past 12 months

  • 49% of adults (who still have natural teeth) had a dental visit in the past 12 months. This dropped from 52% in 2006/07.
  • 8% of adults (270,000 adults) had a tooth removed due to decay, infection, abscess or gum infection, in the past 12 months.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    12 December 2012
    ISBN:
    978-0-478-40216-6 (print), 978-0-478-40219-3 (online)
    HP number:
    5592
    Citation:
    Ministry of Health. 2012. The Health of New Zealand Adults 2011/12: Key findings of the New Zealand Health Survey. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
    Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download