4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/06/2013   
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Contents >> Health conditions >> Long-term Conditions (Other)



A long-term condition is defined as a condition that is current and has lasted, or is expected to last, for 6 months or more. This module collects other long-term conditions not previously collected in specific conditions modules (e.g. diabetes, cancer, asthma) and do not need to have been diagnosed by a health professional (i.e. ‘medically’ diagnosed).


Information was obtained for all persons in the NHS.


Initial data for other long-term conditions was collected via a prompt card showing the following conditions:

  • hayfever
  • sinusitis or sinus allergy
  • food allergy
  • drug allergy
  • other allergy
  • anaemia
  • bronchitis
  • emphysema
  • epilepsy
  • fluid problems/fluid retention/oedema (excluding those due to heart or circulatory conditions)
  • hernias
  • kidney stones
  • migraine
  • psoriasis
  • stomach/other gastrointestinal ulcers
  • thyroid trouble/goiter
  • depression
  • feeling depressed
  • back - slipped disc or other disc problems
  • back pain or other problems.

More than one response was allowed.

Respondents were asked whether they currently had any of these conditions, and whether they had lasted or were expected to last for six months or more.

Respondents who reported having a food or drug allergy were asked whether their reaction to food or drugs is:
  • anaphylactic
  • non-anaphylactic
  • both.

Respondents were then asked to report any other conditions (not included on the previous list or reported earlier in the survey) that had lasted or were expected to last six months or more. There was capacity to report up to six other conditions. If more than six conditions were identified the six main conditions were recorded.

Respondents were then finally asked whether they had any other long-term conditions such as the following:
  • amputation or loss of limbs, e.g. arm, foot, finger
  • behavioural or emotional disorders
  • deformity or disfigurement from birth, e.g. club foot, cleft palate
  • other deformity or disfigurement, e.g. effects of burns
  • dependence on drugs or alcohol
  • difficulties in learning or understanding
  • feeling anxious or nervous
  • gallstones
  • incontinence
  • paraplegia or other paralysis
  • speech impediment.

More than one response was allowed.

For respondents who identified here that they had a NHPA condition (such as diabetes, cancer, asthma, etc.), depending on response wording, an edit was triggered if they had not previously responded to that specific condition module. Interviewers were then able to return to that module and complete it or progress to the question regarding whether they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they have that condition. This enabled most of these cases to be appropriately classified to a condition status which was derived for all conditions including whether or not the condition was diagnosed. If this edit was not triggered then diagnosis status was identified as ‘not known’ and specific module questions were not asked.

Respondents who identified long-term mental health conditions in this module, an additional set of questions were asked. See 'Long-term mental and behavioural problems' within the Mental Health and Well-being topic for more information.

Data items

The data items and related output categories for this topic are available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.


Points to be considered in interpreting this topic include:
  • The conditions data collected in the long-term conditions module relate to conditions 'as reported' by respondents and hence do not necessarily represent conditions as medically diagnosed. However, as the data relate to conditions which had lasted or were expected to last for six months or more, there is considered to be a reasonable likelihood that medical diagnoses would have been made in most cases. The degree to which conditions have been medically diagnosed is likely to differ across condition types.
  • While the methodology was aimed at maximising the identification of long-term conditions, some under-reporting may have occurred, particularly in respect of those conditions which are controlled by treatment (such as epilepsy) or recur infrequently, or those to which respondents have become accustomed and no longer consider an illness.

Comparability with 2007-08

The long-term conditions module is generally considered comparable between 2007-08 and 2011-12.

However, prompting for food allergy and drug allergy occurred in 2011-12, in addition to the general allergy category used in previous cycles. This additional prompting has resulted in a significant increase in allergy responses and as a result allergy data should be compared with caution.

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