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The Australian Health Consumer Sentiment Survey is a population-based study of health consumer sentiment and provides an important barometer of satisfaction and opinions about the Australian health system. The survey was co-designed by academics and researchers from Macquarie University together with health consumer advocates and consumer-researchers from the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF). Data from two waves of the survey with representative samples of Australian adults drawn from the general population – 1024 respondents in December 2018 and 5100 in October 2021 during the COVID-19 Delta outbreak – provides unique insights into health service use, satisfaction, and opinions before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian Health Consumer Sentiment Survey, if undertaken regularly over time, would ensure that consumer views inform health policy.

Despite ongoing disruptions to the Australian healthcare system as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, overall, Australian’s satisfaction and favourable views of their healthcare system continued to increase. However, there are continued concerns over inadequate workforce capacity in the health system and ability to afford needed care, especially among people with chronic conditions. Use of tele-health and other virtual care services increased, and such services were highly rated. Almost a quarter reported serious levels of psychological distress and were more likely to use virtual care. With over 20% of people reporting disrespect or discrimination, especially among vulnerable populations, interventions to increase cultural competency in the health system are needed.

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