Changes in public perceptions and experiences of the Australian health-care system: a decade of change

Louise Ellis*, Chiara Pomare, James A. Gillespie, Jo Root, James Ansell, Joanna Holt, Leanne Wells, Yvonne Tran, Jeffrey Braithwaite, Yvonne Zurynski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The views and experiences of the Australian public are an important barometer of the health system. This study provides key findings about the changing views held by Australians over time regarding their individual experiences and perceptions of the overall performance of the health system.

Methods: A population‐based online survey was conducted in 2018 (N = 1024). Participants were recruited through market research panels. The results were compared with previous Australian population survey data sets from 2008 (N = 1146), 2010 (N = 1201) and 2012 (N = 1200), each of which used different population samples. The survey included questions consistent with previous surveys regarding self‐reported health status, and questions about use, opinions and experiences of the health system.

Results: Overall, there has been a shift in views from 2008 to 2018, with a higher proportion of respondents now viewing the Australian health‐care system more positively (X2 (2, N = 4543) = 96.59, P < .001). In 2018, areas for attention continued to include the following: the need for more doctors, nurses and other health workers (29.0%); lower costs for care or Orion medicines (27.8%); more access to care (13.1%); and enhancements in residential aged care (17.3% rated these services as ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’). 

Conclusions: This research suggests that Australians’ perceptions of their health‐care system have significantly improved over the last decade; however, concerns have emerged over access to medicines, inadequate workforce capacity and the quality of aged care facilities. Our study highlights the value of periodically conducting public sentiment surveys to identify potential emerging health system problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-110
Number of pages16
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number1
Early online date20 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Australia
  • Health system
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Affordability
  • public perception
  • consumer sentiment
  • health-care system


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