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Supplementary tables

Technical notes

About the 2013 survey

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey is conducted every three years and the AIHW has been collating and reporting on these surveys since 1998. The 2013 survey was the 11th survey in the series. The survey was commissioned and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Scope and coverage

The scope of the 2013 NDSHS was the Australian residential population aged 12 years or older. The 2013 survey collected data from 23,855 people across Australia. Households were selected by a multistage, stratified area random sample design. The sample was based on private dwelling households, so some people (such as homeless and institutionalised people) were not included in the survey (consistent with the approach in previous years). The respondent was the household member aged 12 years or older with the next birthday. Most results are based on the population aged 14 years or older (unless specified), as this allows consistent comparison with earlier survey results.


The 2013 survey was conducted using a self-completion drop-and-collect questionnaire method. This was consistent with the methodology used in 2010, except for the addition of a third pick-up call which was successful in more questionnaires being returned and more usable questionnaires being processed.

The fieldwork was conducted from 31 July to 1 December 2013. The AIHW commissioned Roy Morgan Research to conduct the fieldwork.


To maintain maximum comparability, the 2013 questionnaire (1.8MB PDF) was similar to the 2010 version. Some refinements were made to ensure the questions remained relevant and useful. The major additions to the questionnaire were more detailed information about the type of tobacco products used; awareness and use of unbranded and illicit tobacco; the amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy; factors that influence the decision to use illicit drugs; use of emerging synthetic/psychoactive substances; and types of prescription and over-the-counter analgesics used.

Please refer to the Supplementary table footnotes for selected questionnaire change caveats and other data quality issues.

Response rate

Overall, contact was made with 48,579 in-scope households, of which 23,855 questionnaires were categorised as being complete and useable. This represented a response rate for the 2013 Survey of 49.1%, which was comparable with the 2010 Survey rate of 50.6%.

Non-response bias and non-sampling error

Survey estimates are subject to non-sampling errors that can arise from errors in reporting of responses (for example, failure of respondents’ memories, incorrect completion of the survey form), the unwillingness of respondents to reveal their true responses and higher levels of non-response from certain subgroups of the population.

A limitation of the survey is that people may not accurately report information relating to illicit drug use and related behaviours because these activities may be illegal. This means that results relating to illicit drugs may be under-reported by some people. Legislation protecting people’s privacy and the use of consistent methodology over time means that the impact of this issue on prevalence is limited.


All data are weighted for probability of selection which takes into account dwelling location, household size, and the age and sex of the respondent.

Presentation of estimates

Proportions are shown as percentages rounded to 1 decimal place when less than 20% and rounded to a whole number when greater than 20%. All data presented in the snapshots and online tables have not been age-standardised.

Population estimates are calculated by applying survey prevalence rates to the relevant population count and were based on the June 2013 Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated resident population. Population estimates are shown to the nearest 100,000 or 10,000 in text, depending on the size of the estimate.

Relative standard error

Estimates that have relative standard errors (RSE) greater than 50% are marked with ** and those with RSEs of between 25% and 50% are marked with *. Results subject to RSEs of between 25% and 50% should be considered with caution and those with RSE greater than 50% should be considered as unreliable for most practical purposes. Only estimates with RSEs of less than 25% are considered sufficiently reliable for most purposes.

Significance testing

All time series tables have been tested for statistically significant changes between 2010 and 2013 but not for other comparisons (such as between sex or age). Throughout the snapshots, ‘significant’ means ‘statistically significant’ and is indicated with a # for significant decrease or increase. The difference is statistically significant if the z-statistic of the pooled estimate of the two rates being compared is more than 1.96 or less than –1.96 (a 5% two-tailed test).

Alcohol risk definitions

The alcohol risk data presented in the snapshots are reported against guideline 1 and guideline 2 of The Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol released in March 2009 by National Health and Medical Research Council (see Box for 1.1 for further details).

Guideline 1 is based on calculating the cumulative lifetime risk associated with multiple drinking occasions (NHMRC 2009). Therefore, to calculate lifetime risk, the number of standard drinks had by a person over the last 12 months was calculated and divided by 365. Those people whose average was greater than 2 drinks were considered to be lifetime ‘risky’ drinkers.


AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) & AACR (Australasian Association of Cancer Registries) 2012. Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2012. Cancer series no. 74. Cat. no. CAN 70. Canberra: AIHW.

Collins D & Lapsley H 2008. The costs of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug abuse to Australian society in 2004-05. National Drug Strategy Monograph Series no. 66. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

IHME (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) 2013. GBD Profile: Australia. Seattle: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Ministerial Council on Drugs Strategy (MCDS) 2011. The National Drug Strategy 2010-2015. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

NDARC 2013. Emerging psychoactive substances. Fact Sheet: October 2013. Sydney: UNSW

National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2009. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Canberra: NHMRC

National Rural Health Alliance 2012. Illicit drug use in Rural Australia. Fact Sheet 33–June 2012. Canberra.

Further information

Confidentialised unit record files (CURF) of the NDSHS are available to researchers through the Australian Data Archive at the Australian National University. The latest available CURF is for the 2013 NDSHS.

For more information contact the AIHW at aod@aihw.gov.au