Causes of impairment for people with disabilities in New Zealand
By sex, 2013, thousands of people who have disabilities
Any individual may appear in more than one impairment type.
Activity: the completion of a task or action by an individual (eg reading the newspaper). Activity limitations are difficulties an individual may have completing activities.
Agility impairment (in adults): adults with an agility impairment have difficulty with or cannot do one or more of the following:
- dress and undress independently
- cut their own toenails or fingernails
- use fingers to grasp or handle things like scissors or pliers
- use arms to reach in any direction
- cut their own food.
Agility impairment (in children): children with an agility impairment have difficulty with or cannot do one or more of the following:
- use hands to grasp an object such as a spoon or a pencil/crayon
- raise arms to take off a t-shirt.
Stats NZ only asked about the use of hands for grasping objects of/about children aged 2–14 years old, and about raising arms to take off a t-shirt of/about children aged 5–14 years old.
Developmental delay: a diagnosed disorder or impairment that significantly delays a child’s development. We only asked this question of/about children aged 0–4 years old.
Disability: an impairment that has a long-term, limiting effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. ‘Long-term’ is defined as six months or longer. ‘Limiting effect’ means a restriction or lack of ability to perform.
People were not considered to have a disability if an assistive device (such as glasses or crutches) eliminated their impairment.
Disability rate: the proportion of people reporting a disability in the population or in any sub-population (eg age group).
Ethnic group: is the ethnic group or groups that respondents identify with or feel they belong to. Ethnicity is self-perceived and people can belong to more than one ethnic group. Ethnicity is a measure of cultural affiliation, as opposed to race, ancestry, nationality, or citizenship.
- the Asian ethnic group refers to people who specified their ethnic group to be one of: Chinese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Korean, Japanese, any other Asian group as their sole ethnic group, or as one of several ethnic groups.
- the European ethnic group refers to people who specified their ethnic group to be one of: New Zealand European (Pākehā), Australian, Dutch, Greek, English, Scottish, Irish, any other European group as their sole ethnic group, or as one of several ethnic groups.
- the Māori ethnic group refers to people who specified ‘Māori’ as either their sole ethnic group, or as one of several ethnic groups with which they identify.
- the Pacific ethnic group refers to people who specified their ethnic group to be one of: Samoan, Cook Islands Maori, Tongan, Niuean, Tokelauan, Fijian or any other Pacific ethnic group as their sole ethnic group, or as one of several ethnic groups.
Group homes: community/independent-living households. For 2013, the HDS included group homes of fewer than five people.
Hearing impairment (in adults): adults with hearing impairments cannot hear, or have difficulty hearing, what is said in a conversation with one other person and/or what is said in a group conversation with three or more people, even when using an assistive hearing device such as a hearing aid.
Hearing impairment (in children): children with hearing impairments cannot hear or have difficulty hearing, even when using assistive hearing devices such as a hearing aid, grommets, or a cochlear implant.
Household: is either one person who usually resides alone, or two or more people who usually reside together and share facilities (such as for eating, cooking, or a living area; and bathroom and toilet) in a private dwelling.
Intellectual disability (in adults): adults with an intellectual disability need support or help from people or organisations, have been to a special school, or receive special education because of an intellectual disability.
Intellectual disability (in children): for children, the parent or caregiver was asked whether a child (5–14 years old) has ‘a recognised intellectual disability’.
Learning impairment: a long-term condition or health problem that makes it hard in general for someone to learn. This question was only asked of/about respondents aged five years and older.
Long-stay bed: people staying in long-stay beds were assessed as needing continuing care (ie rehabilitation). ‘Long-stay’ means the resident has been or is expected to be in the residential care facility for six months or more.
Main impairment: the impairment that the respondent considered limited their everyday activities the most.
Memory impairment: a long-term condition or health problem that causes ongoing difficulty with an adult’s ability to remember. We only asked about memory loss for adults 15 years and older.
Mobility impairment (in adults): adults with mobility impairment have difficulty with or couldn't do one or more of the following:
- walk about 350 metres without resting
- walk up or down a flight of stairs
- carry an object as heavy as five kilograms over a distance
- move from room to room within the home
- stand for period of 20 minutes
- bend down without support
- get in and out of bed independently.
Mobility impairment (in children): children with mobility impairment have difficulty with or cannot do one or more of the following:
- stand without assistive devices such as braces or crutches
- walk on a flat footpath
- move from room to room within the home
- bend down without support.
Stats NZ only asked questions about mobility of/about children aged 2–14 years old.
Physical impairment: mobility and/or agility impairments.
Psychological/psychiatric impairment (in adults): a long-term emotional, psychological, or psychiatric condition that causes:
- difficulty with everyday activities, or
- difficulty communicating, mixing with others, or socialising.
Psychological/psychiatric impairment (in children): having one or more of the following:
- occasional emotional, nervous, or behavioural problems that limit the type or amount of activity a child can do
- a long-term psychological or mental health condition that causes difficulty with everyday activities.
Stats NZ only asked questions about psychological/psychiatric impairment of/about children aged 5–14 years old.
Residential care facility: a non-private dwelling, being one of:
rest home (standard-level care), rest home (dementia), continuing care hospital (geriatric), continuing care hospital (psycho-geriatric), intellectual disability unit, physical disability unit, sensory disability unit, psychiatric disability unit, multi-disability unit.
Vision impairment (in adults): adults with vision impairment have difficulty seeing, or cannot see, ordinary newsprint, and/or the face of someone from across a room, even when wearing corrective lenses.
Vision impairment (in children): children with vision impairment cannot see, or have difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Sensory impairment: a hearing and/or vision impairment.
Speaking impairment: people with a speaking impairment have difficulty speaking or being understood. We only ask this question of/about respondents aged two years and older.
Use of special equipment: the use of specialised equipment or technical aids, such as a wheelchair, crutches, walking sticks, a walking frame or any other kind of walking aid, a standing frame, an artificial limb, or any other type of equipment because of a long-term condition or health problem (not including asthma inhalers, braces for teeth, or grommets).
For more information
Limitations of the data
The 2006 survey reported a significant decline in the disability rate (17 percent) compared with that reported in earlier surveys (the 2001 and 1996 rates were both 20 percent). The 2006 information release advised people to be cautious when comparing the 2006 disability rate with disability rates from previous surveys, particularly for the adult household rate. This recommendation also applies to comparisons of 2006 with 2013 disability rates. In this release, Stats NZ have compared disability rates with 2001 only.
Be cautious when comparing agility and/or mobility data, as these impairment types are not comparable over time.
The survey population for the Household Disability Survey (HDS)is the usually resident population of New Zealand, staying in occupied private dwellings and group homes (with fewer than five people) on the main islands of New Zealand (North, South, and Waiheke) on the night of the 2013 Census (5 March 2013).
The survey population for the Disability Survey of Residential Facilities (DSRF)is people aged 15 years and over, and living in rest homes, occupying long-stay beds in continuing care hospitals, or living in long-stay residential units for people with intellectual and/or physical impairments (with five or more people).
The target population for 2013 Household Disability Survey is the usually resident population of New Zealand, living in occupied private dwellings or group homes on the night of the 2013 Census of Population and Dwellings.
The usually resident population excludes:
- non-New Zealand diplomats and non-New Zealand members of their staff and households
- members of non-New Zealand armed forces stationed in New Zealand and their dependants
- overseas visitors who have been resident in New Zealand for less than 12 months and who do not intend to stay in New Zealand for a total period of more than 12 months.
Changes to data collection/processing
Definition of ‘disability’
In previous surveys, Stats NZ used a functional concept of disability: ‘any restriction or lack (resulting from impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the normal range considered normal for a human being.’
For the 2013 Disability Survey, Stats NZ defined a disability as: ‘an impairment which has a long-term limiting effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. Long-term means six months or longer and limiting effect means a restriction or lack of ability to perform.’
The following changes have resulted from the redevelopment of the 2013 Disability Survey:
- the questions focusing on main conditions or health problems causing difficulties were not included
- less detail was collected on the use of assistive devices
- a series of questions relating to social outcomes were included
- the screening questions used to define whether a child is disabled or non-disabled have been changed to more closely align with the adult screening questions. This means that data for children from the 2013 survey is not directly comparable with previous disability surveys.
For earlier surveys, ethnic group was prioritised. This means Stats NZ categorised the ethnicity of a person who identified with more than one ethnic group to a single group.
The order of prioritisation was Māori, Pacific, Asian, Other, and European. For example, a person who identified as Māori and Samoan would be categorised as Māori. A person who identified as New Zealand European and Samoan would be categorised in the Pacific ethnic group.
For the 2013 survey, we categorised ethnicity using grouped total responses. In this method, a person who identifies with more than one ethnic group is counted once in each group. For example, at level one of the ethnic group classification, a person of Samoan, Tongan, and German ethnicity would be counted once in the Pacific ethnic group and once in the European ethnic group.
Disability data on the Māori population is the only ethnic-group data that is consistent over time. Ethnic data from the 2013 survey is not comparable with previous disability surveys.
Data provided by
Disability Survey 2013
How to find the data
At URL provided, select 'Disability Survey: 2013 – tables' from box at the right-hand side of the page.
Import & extraction details
File as imported: Disability Survey 2013
From the dataset Disability Survey 2013, this data was extracted:
- Sheet: 6.02
- Provided: 105 data points
This data forms the table Disability - Cause of impairment for disabled people by age, sex and impairment type (number) 2013.
Dataset originally released on:
June 17, 2014
Purpose of collection
The purpose of the 2013 Disability Survey is to answer the following questions, listed in priority order:
What is the prevalence of disability in New Zealand, and how does it vary across key population subgroups based on age group, sex, and ethnic group?
To what extent do the social and economic outcomes of disabled people differ from those of non-disabled people, and how do outcomes vary between different groups within the disabled population?
To what extent are the needs of disabled people currently being met? What level and type of support do they need to perform everyday activities?
What factors help or hinder the participation of disabled people in important life areas (eg learning opportunities, paid work, civic society)?
Who are the main carers of disabled people and what types of support do they need?
Method of collection/Data provider
Stats NZ collected data through two surveys:
the Household Disability Survey (HDS) of adults and children living in private dwellings or group homes (of fewer than five people)
the Disability Survey of Residential Facilities (DSRF), surveying adults living in residential care facilities with five or more beds