The Consumer Sentiment Survey


The Consumer Sentiment Survey is a survey project conducted by the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and the NHMRC Partnership Centre for Health System Sustainability (PCHSS) that was devloped with funding by the Australian Department of Health.


More than 5,000 (5,100) Australians aged 18 and over were included in the second wave of thr Consumer Sentiment Surveywhich was conducted in October 2021 during the height of the COVID-19 Delta outbreak. The 2021 sample size is five times larger than the previous survey in 2018. The CHF co-designed the survey, which was conducted by the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, and the NHMRC Partnership Centre for Health System Sustainability (PCHSS).

The survey is aimed at understanding the health system from a consumer point of view to inform better delivery and planning of healthcare services in our communities. Whilst the survey results show overall satisfaction with healthcare services remains high, gaps remain in affordability and accessibility among disadvantaged groups and people with chronic conditions.

Areas of satisfaction or confidence with the system:

  • 84% of Australians were satisfied with health services they received
  • 30% said their confidence in the health system increased since the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 71% of Australians who used telehealth said it was as good or better than face-to-face
  • 85% with mental distress were satisfied with the care they received via digital healthcare

Areas of dissatisfaction or concerns with the system:

  • 14% of Australians with chronic conditions could not pay for healthcare or medicine because of cost
  • 24% did not fill a prescription or omitted doses of medicine – over a third said this was because of cost
  • 55% of Australians in regional and remote regions said they needed more doctors, nurses and health workers
  • 23% of Australians reported experiencing discrimination or disrespect when receiving healthcare
  • 23% believed that residential aged care services are bad or very bad
  • 24% experienced serious levels of mental distress

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) hosted a webinar on Monday 28 March 2022 to coincide with the release of the report The Voice of Australian Health Consumers which provided the preliminary high level analysis of the 2021 data. Additional analysis will be conducted and presented in academic publications over time.


The Consumer Sentiment Survey was first run in 2018 and found that Australian consumers are largely satisfied with the end product of the Australian healthcare system but have noticeable concerns about the process of obtaining healthcare. While the majority of consumers reported high levels of satisfaction with the quality of healthcare in Australia, sizeable minorities had encountered difficulties in trying to obtain that healthcare.

Two recurring issues consumers had with Australian healthcare were uncertainty and cost. The uncertainty of what healthcare was available, how it could be obtained and whether it was affordable. While the cost, specifically cost barriers, have led to many consumers not taking full advantage of the healthcare system - such as not filling prescriptions, not visiting providers such as dentists and not obtaining Private Health Insurance. Despite the majority of consumers believing Australia had top quality healthcare that was safe and effective, more were concerned that they would be unable to afford it due to these cost barriers if they become ill.

Overall this suggests that while Australians are generally happy with the healthcare system there is scope for additional work by governments to both clarify the processes of obtaining appropriate healthcare in Australia and ensuring it remains affordable and accessible to all Australians.

Since the survey was completed, the Australian Government has launched Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan which charts a path forward over the next 10 years in key areas of health policy including mental health, primary care, hospitals, preventive health and medical research. Underneath this Plan, the Government is developing a 10 Year Primary Health Care Plan and a National Preventive Health Strategy, and CHF is contributing to both of these processes. The results of the 2018 Consumer Sentiment Survey provide important guidance on areas that need to be addressed through upcoming reforms in order to deliver a truly consumer-centred health system over the next 10 years.

In addition several academic publications have been produced from the data gathered in this project:

  • Ellis, LA, Pomare, C, Gillespie, JA, et al. "Changes in public perceptions and experiences of the Australian health‐care system: A decade of change". Health Expect. 2020; 00: 116.
  • Ellis, LA, Pomare, C, Gillespie, JA, et al. "Accessible and affordable healthcare? Views of Australians with and without chronic conditions". Internal Medicine Journal. 2020 (in press)