The RCH National Child Health Poll is a periodic (quarterly) cross-sectional survey of a nationally representative sample of 2000 Australian households with children. The surveys are conducted using rigorous, established web-based survey technology provided by a private vendor, the Online Research Unit (ORU), under contract to the RCH.

ORU has an established research panel of over 120,000 members across Australia. Panel members are randomly recruited through both online and offline methods. Offline methods include random-digit dialling and address-based sampling. Panel members must have internet access in order to complete the online surveys. They must be living in Australia and aged equal to or older than 18 years. Panel members have a unique identifying number that means they can only access and complete the survey once. Only one person per household is able to join the panel. Every panel member must have a residential Australian address.

For each poll, the ORU recruits panel members to achieve a nationally representative sample of 2000 Australian households with children. To reduce the effects of non-response and non-coverage, results are weighted using national demographic distributions for gender and state, as per the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data. The field period for the web-based survey is between two and four weeks.

Participants are remunerated for their participation with points that can be exchanged for department store gift vouchers. In all cases, adults are the respondents and their responses are anonymous.

Each quarter a different topic/theme forms the focus of the poll. The process for selecting poll topics is responsive to and informed by the national political and social agenda. Research themes and questions are developed by the project Director and the project team and through liaison with campus and other subject matter experts as required.

Themes include a wide variety of children’s health issues, such as child health conditions (e.g. asthma and obesity), preventive services, access to care, relationship of health and education for children, and safety and health concerns.

Each poll also includes survey questions pertaining to demographics of participants including age, gender, postcode, parental status, country of birth, language spoken at home, education level, healthcare card status and indigenous background.

Analysis of the survey data includes examining relationships among survey items, between survey items and respondents’ demographic data, and between survey items and external datasets and programs.