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For example, the proportion of Indigenous people who reported their health as fair or poor in the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey was very similar to the proportion of people (the vast majority of whom were non-Indigenous) who reported fair or poor health in the 1995 National Health Survey. Many people interpreted this to mean that the question on self-assessed health status was not useful for the Indigenous population, since it did not reflect the relatively poorer health of Indigenous people.
However, as the graph shows, this overall figure was confounded by the different age distributions of Indigenous and non-Indigenous survey participants. The Indigenous survey respondents were younger on average, and younger people are less likely than older people to report fair or poor health.
Within each age group from 25 to 64 years, Indigenous males were much more likely than non-Indigenous males to report fair or poor health. Similar results were observed for females (not shown). The pattern of self-assessed health corresponds well with that for mortality, for which the largest differentials are observed among adults aged 35-55 years old. Thus, the question on self-assessed health appears to be a potentially useful measure after all, but only after adjusting for age.
information about the factors associated with self-assessed health among
Indigenous Australians, see: Cunningham J, Sibthorpe B & Anderson I, 1997, Occasional
Paper: Self-assessed health status, Indigenous Australians, 1994. ABS cat.
no. 4707.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra. Available on-line at http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/