New Zealand Health Survey results provide a snapshot of the nation’s health

News article

17 November 2022

Results from the New Zealand Health Survey 2021/22 have been published today.

The annual New Zealand Health Survey results provide valuable information about the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders, says Dr Harriette Carr, Deputy Director of Public Health. The survey is a key data source and the 2021/22 survey provides population-level data on health status, long-term conditions, health behaviours and risk factors, health service utilisation and barriers to accessing healthcare.

“The findings of the New Zealand Health Survey will help us track our progress as we transform Aotearoa New Zealand’s health and disability system so that it supports all New Zealanders to live longer and have the best possible quality of life. The 2021/22 results provide a snapshot of health and wellbeing prior to 1 July 2022 when New Zealand moved to a new national health system.”

The 2021/22 results are baed on data collected between July 2021 and July 2022. The sample size for the 2021/22 survey was 4,434 adults and 1,323 children. Around 180 indicators related to child and adult health were included in the survey publication, which incorporated family wellbeing, life satisfaction and loneliness for the first time.

“The key statistics in the survey give a picture of New Zealanders’ smoking and vaping behaviour, alcohol consumption, mental health, self-rated health and access to healthcare.”

Key results show:

  • Most New Zealanders are in good health. In 2021/22, 88.4% of adults reported they were in good health, similar to the previous year.
  • Most adults (83.2%) reported high family wellbeing (a score of 7+ out of 10).
  • However, psychological distress among adults has increased during COVID-19, especially for young people. One in 9 (11.2%) adults experienced high levels of distress in the past four weeks. This was highest in the youngest age group, with 23.6% of people aged 15-24 years experiencing high levels of psychological distress.
  • One in 10 adults (10.7%) reported not seeing a GP due to cost in the 12 months prior to the 2021/22 survey. This is down from 13.6% in 2011/12. Māori (14.5%) and Pacific (11.4%) adults were more likely to report cost as a barrier.
  • Notably, daily smoking rates have continued to decrease, down to 8.0% from 9.4% the year before, however vaping has increased. Māori (19.9%) and Pacific (18.2%) adults reported higher daily smoking rates than other ethnic groups. 8.3% of adults were daily vape or e-cigarette users in 2021/22, up from 6.2% the previous year.
  • About one in five adults (18.8%) reported having a hazardous drinking pattern in 2020/21, similar to the years before.
  • One in eight children (12.5%) live in households where food runs out sometimes or often in 2021/22. This is down from 14.9% the previous year and 24.1% in 2012/13.

“The New Zealand Health Survey data is usually conducted face-to-face in people’s homes,” says Dr Carr. “COVID-19 reduced the number of interviews that could be carried out this way. We introduced a video mode to ensure there was enough data for the findings to be reliable and useful. As height and weight could not be collected this year, we obtained data from another source and have used it to estimate possible trends in obesity.

“The survey’s findings will be used by decisionmakers and researchers to support the development of health services, policy and strategy, identify key health and wellbeing issues and monitor trends.

“For example, the data shows good progress is being made on the Government’s goal for Aotearoa to be Smokefree by 2025, with around 56,000 fewer daily smokers in 2021/22 compared with the previous year. The findings provide a baseline data on mental health and wellbeing for Kia Manawanui Aotearoa, the Government’s long-term pathway to mental wellbeing, which aims to support people to stay well, and have access to help that works for them when and where they need it.

“The reformed health system give us the opportunity to put equity front and centre and improve access to healthcare on the basis of need for all New Zealanders, no matter who they are, their ethnicity or gender, or whether they’re urban or rural.”

The 2021/22 New Zealand Health Survey findings have been published on the Ministry’s Annual Data Explorer, an interactive web tool.

Read more - Annual Update of Key Results 2021/22.

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