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Our health research

The Bupa HealthWatch research program provides a snapshot of the nation's views on key health issues. This series of annual surveys and regular polls is our way of keeping our “finger on the pulse” of the Australian community’s understanding and attitudes towards health and the healthcare system.

Our surveys and polls are undertaken in collaboration with respected research organisations and allow us to better shape and plan our services to support a healthier future for Australians. Many of our research findings have highlighted important concerns for consideration for health services and health policy makers.

Since its start in 2007, HealthWatch has scanned the community’s views on important health issues as diverse as sleep, obesity, underage drinking, children’s breakfast habits, swine flu vaccination, and the impact of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) on health.


May 2011 (concerns over the Australian healthcare system)

HealthWatch asked Australians about their concerns regarding Australia’s public healthcare system and compared results against earlier findings.

December 2009 (Australian attitudes towards swine flu vaccinations)

The second HealthWatch poll found that Australia risks a serious swine flu outbreak with 65 per cent of unprotected Australians unlikely to get vaccinated against swine flu in the next 12 months.

November 2009 (the impact of the GFC on health decisions)

The first HealthWatch poll examined what health-related actions participants took as a result of the increasing financial pressures of the global financial crisis.

  • Survey results (PDF 131Kb)
  • Media articles:
    • The GFC is bad for more than just your pocket
      The HealthWatch poll found that one in four Australian adults had taken an action that puts their health at risk as a result of the global financial crisis. These included turning up to work ill, sending sick children to school and avoiding or delaying visits to health professionals.

June 2009 (alcohol use and young Australians)

The third HealthWatch Survey reviews the attitudes and understanding of Australians towards the use of alcohol by young people.

  • Media articles:
    • Parents encourage underage drinking
      The latest HealthWatch survey found that half of Australian adults and 63 percent of Australians on a higher income believe 15–17 year olds should be allowed to consume alcohol under parental supervision at home.
    • The risks of underage drinking
      Some parents perhaps believe that supervised underage drinking is safe but researchers are concerned. Alcohol disrupts brain development and we don’t yet know enough about how this affects young people. The statistics on young people and alcohol highlight the short-term and long-term risks of teenage drinking and how parents can be responsible role models regarding alcohol use.

July 2008 (understanding the dietary needs of children)

The second HealthWatch Survey looked at Australian parents’ attitudes towards and understanding of the dietary habits of their school-aged children.

  • Survey results (PDF 96Kb)
  • Media articles:
    • School kids 'wagging' breakfast are missing healthy brain fuel
      The HealthWatch survey revealed a disturbing number of children ‘wag’ breakfast. Twenty-two percent of parents interviewed said their children skipped breakfast three to five school days a week and a further 20 percent said their children skip this important meal on one to two school days a week.
    • Parents fail to recognise their children's burgeoning weight
      Despite constant warnings about childhood obesity, the HealthWatch Survey found only 7.9 percent of children were considered overweight by their parents, considerably down on figures from a recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report.

October 2007 (sleep survey)

The first national HealthWatch Survey of over 1,200 Australians asked participants’ views on sleep behaviours and their attitude toward public hygiene habits.

Other research

Research Australia Health & Medical Research Public Opinion Poll funded by MBF Foundation 2008

  • 7th annual Health & Medical Research Public Opinion Poll (2008) (PDF, 1Mb)
    The research poll in 2008 found that despite the pressures of the rising cost of living, for the fourth year running health remained the greatest issue of importance for Australians.
  • Australians want more funding to study effectiveness of complementary medicines
    Australians are increasingly turning to complementary medicines to manage their wellness. The 7th annual Health & Medical Research Public Opinion Poll, which is supported by the MBF Foundation, found that 59 per cent of Australians agree there should be more government funding for more research into complementary medicines.

MBF Foundation Tuckshop survey November 2007

Research Australia Health & Medical Research Public Opinion Poll funded by MBF Foundation 2007

  • 6th annual Health & Medical Research Public Opinion Poll (2007) (PDF, 1.2Mb)
    This research poll shows that health remains the number one issue of concern to Australians. Along with issues of cancer research, addressing obesity and the impact of climate change and health, the poll also examined community attitudes to prescription and complementary medicines.
  • Australians more confident in traditional medicine than complementary and natural therapies
    The MBF Foundation-funded survey showed that 94 percent of Australians are confident that traditional medicines prescribed for them by their doctors are safe and effective. But support wasn't so strong when it came to complementary and natural therapies, with only 56 percent expressing confidence in them.