Participation in Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System

In WA the Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System (HWSS) plays a vital role in monitoring the health of local communities, health regions, and the entire state.

It does this by collecting information on medical conditions, use of health services, health-enhancing behaviours, and health risk factors – all of which have a significant impact on the overall wellbeing of the WA population.

You participation in the survey will contribute to improvements for all Western Australians and all communities throughout the state, especially those with the greatest health needs.

What to expect

If you are selected for the Health and Wellbeing Surveillance Survey (HWSS), you will first receive letter and survey brochure in the mail signed by the Director General of the Department of Health WA.

This letter explains the purpose of the survey and will ask one person in the household to participate.

The survey can be completed online or over the telephone with a trained interviewer from the contracted data-collection agency – currently Edith Cowan University Survey Research Centre (ECU SRC).

The letter provides the contact details of the data collection agency, as well as a contact number for the manager of HWSS, Department of Health. Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions about the survey or if you wish to opt out.  

The survey covers a broad range of health topics such as general health, chronic health conditions, lifestyle and physiological risk factors, psychosocial factors, health service use and social characteristics. The HWSS is subject to strict privacy and confidentially policies, ensuring the confidentiality of your responses.

On completing the survey, your information will be de-identified and combined with information from thousands of other survey participants. The combined data will then be analysed, and the results shared with the public through published reports. Results are also supplied to health services and agencies as requested.

More information:

Frequently asked questions

How was I chosen for the survey?

We use lists containing contact information such as name, address, and telephone number to make a random selection of Western Australian residents, with approximately 700 people across the entire State selected each month.  

By taking a random sample of respondents, we are able to form a picture about the entire population of WA, without having to contact every single person.

We are currently using two sample lists for contacting a random selection of respondents for the HWSS. These include extracts from the WA Electoral Roll and extracts from a consumer database.

The person in the household with the next birthday is asked to take part, regardless of age. If this person is a child aged 0 to 15 years, we ask that a parent or guardian respond to the survey on the child’s behalf.

What are you going to ask me?

The survey covers a broad range of topics and will include questions about your general health, chronic medical conditions, biomedical factors (such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol), nutrition (such as fruit, vegetable, and discretionary food consumption), physical activity, alcohol consumption, smoking, health service use (such as doctor’s visits), and mental health.

We will also ask if you would be happy for us to contact you again for other surveys such as the Nutrition Monitoring Survey Series. If you agree, we will store the personally identifiable information that you supply (i.e., name, address, and telephone number) in a secure location separate to the information you supply in the survey.

Your can stop the survey at any time, and participation is voluntary.

Why do you ask about linking my data?

At the end of the survey, we will ask if you would be happy for us to link some of your survey data with the WA Department of Health Data Collections. If you agree, your name, address and date of birth, but no  other information will be passed to the WA Data Linkage System team. They will use this information to create a special unique ID, called a “linkage key”. These keys can then be used for approved requests, to join up the content data of the records, without releasing the person’s name or other identifying information.

Linking survey data with other health data enhances research by providing a more broad and better understanding of health trends, patterns, and disparities, enabling informed policy decisions and targeted interventions. All research requests to use linked data require approval from the WA Department of Health Human Research and Ethics Committee.

Visit Data Linkage WA (external site) for more information on data linkage services and how data linkage works.

Who will see my responses?

Your personally identifiable information will be seen only by the contracted data collection agency and Department of Health employees who work on the HWSS.

Each month, the data collection agency sends all collected data – including your survey responses – to the Department of Health by secure encrypted email. The HWSS team clean and process the data, and de-identify all records by stripping off personally identifiable information such as name, address, date of birth and telephone number.

We will keep a record of your personally identifiable information if you have agreed to be contacted for other surveys. Only projects with special approval can use your contact information for contacting you again through our data collection agency, such as the Nutrition Monitoring Survey Series. A limited number of staff within he Department of Health will have access to your record to create a list of people who have agreed to be contacted again for future health surveys. This list may be sent to the contracted data collection agency via secure encrypted email, and they may send you a letter and/or contact you to participate in an additional survey.

Is the survey compulsory?

The survey is entirely voluntary but your participation is important important in helping the Department of Health get accurate information on the health and wellbeing of the Western Australian people. The data collected through the survey informs the planning, design and evaluation of health services and prevention activities, and supports relevant professionals such as policy makers and health care providers to understand the health of the community, the performance of the healthcare system and its impact on all Western Australian.

Do you have ethical approval to conduct this survey?

Yes. The HWSS has been reviewed and approved by WA Department of Health’s Human Research Ethics Committee (Committee EC00422, Project PRN RGS0000002698).

More information

Call 6373 3821
Last reviewed: 13-10-2023