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4843.0.55.001 - Arthritis and Osteoporosis in Australia: A Snapshot, 2007-08  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/07/2011  First Issue
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HEALTH CHARACTERISTICS

HEALTH STATUS

The chronic nature of arthritis and osteoporosis can affect the way people perceive their health. Approximately 11.1% people aged 15 years or more who had arthritis rated their health as poor, compared with only 2.5% of persons who did not have arthritis. Around 20% of people with arthritis aged 15 years or over experienced severe or very severe bodily pain in the last 4 weeks; only 7.0% of people without arthritis reported experiencing these same levels of pain.

People with arthritis are more likely to experience psychological distress compared to those people who do not have a long term condition. Of those people aged 18 years or over who had arthritis, 17.6% reported high or very high levels of psychological distress on the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), compared with 10.7% of people who did not have arthritis (graph 3.1).


Graph: health status of people with arthritis, 2007-08


As with arthritis, people with osteoporosis were more likely to rate themselves as being in poor health and reported higher levels of bodily pain than those who did not have osteoporosis. Nearly one in five (18.7%) people with osteoporosis aged 15 years or older rated their health as poor, compared to 3.5% of people who did not have osteoporosis. Around 29% of people with osteoporosis experienced severe or very severe pain compared to 8.6% of people who did not have osteoporosis. Of all people aged 18 years or over who had osteoporosis, 21.9% had high or very high levels of psychological distress, compared to 11.6% of people who did not have osteoporosis (graph 3.2).

Graph: health status of people with osteoporosis, 2007-08


DISABILITY

Arthritis and osteoporosis are significant contributors to disability in Australia. In 2009, 6.5% of Australians had a disability primarily caused by musculoskeletal diseases, such as arthritis and osteoporosis. This proportion has declined slightly from 6.8% in 2003 (SDAC 2009).

One third (35.8%) of all people who had a disability due to arthritis or a musculoskeletal disease in 2009 had a specific limitation or restriction. Around two thirds (64.7%) of all people who had a disability due to arthritis and/or osteoporosis required assistance with performing daily activities.


EMPLOYMENT

People with arthritis or osteoporosis are more likely to not be in the labour force. Around 38% of all people aged 15 to 64 years who had arthritis or osteoporosis were not in the labour force in 2007-08, compared with only 19% of people who did not have arthritis or osteoporosis. Over two thirds (68%) of people who had a disability due to arthritis or osteoporosis and were aged 15 to 64 years had an employment restriction (for example, a restriction in the number of hours they were able to work, or the type of work they could do) (SDAC 2009). Of these, 48% were permanently unable to work.


RISK FACTORS

Body Mass Index

Osteoarthritis most commonly affects weight bearing joints such as the hips, knees and ankles. Obesity has been identified as a risk factor for osteoarthritis (AIHW 2005). After adjusting for age, osteoarthritis was more common amongst obese men and women (10% and 14% respectively) compared with men and women who were underweight or normal weight (6% and 11% respectively), and with those who were overweight (8% and 12% respectively) (graph 3.3).

Graph: proportion of people with osteoarthritis, by Body Mass Index, 2007-08


Physical Activity

Physical inactivity has been identified as a behavioural risk factor for both osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Around 71% of people with osteoarthritis, and 74% of people with osteoporosis did not meet recommended guidelines for physical activity in the last week, compared with 66% of people who did not have osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. However, people in the older age groups who had osteoarthritis and/or osteoporosis were more likely to meet recommended guidelines for physical activity than older people who did not have these conditions. Of those aged 45 years and over who had osteoarthritis and/or osteoporosis, 26% met physical activity guidelines (compared with 14.5% of people who did not have osteoarthritis and/or osteoporosis) (graph 3.4).

Graph: proportion of people who met physical activity guidelines by age, 2007-08

ACTIONS TAKEN FOR ARTHRITIS AND OSTEOPOROSIS

Medications and supplements are commonly used to manage arthritis. Around 59.3% of people with arthritis took some form of medication for their condition. Vitamin, mineral and herbal treatments were the most common type of medication used to treat arthritis (45.0%). Fish oils were the most common supplement used for arthritis (29.4%), followed by glucosamine (26.0%). Around one third (30.2%) of people took pharmaceutical medications to treat their arthritis, with half of these people taking non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Medications and supplements are commonly used to manage osteoporosis. Around 44.2% of people with osteoporosis took some form of medication for their condition. Vitamin, mineral and herbal treatments were the most common type of medication used (33.8%). Calcium supplements were the most common supplement taken by people with osteoporosis (28.0%), followed by fish oils (16.7%). Pharmaceutical medications were used by 21.4% of people to treat their osteoporosis. Biophosphonates (which slow the breakdown of bone) were the most common type of medication taken for osteoporosis, used by 4.5% of people who had osteoporosis.

After medication use, the most common action taken for arthritis or osteoporosis in the last two weeks was exercise on most days. Around 19% of people with arthritis or osteoporosis exercised on most days, with women being more likely than men to do this (20.3% compared with 16.4%). Massage was the third most common action taken by women (9.2%), whereas for men it was weights, strength or resistance training (8.3%).


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