4727.0.55.002 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2012-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/11/2013  First Issue
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Contents >> Health Conditions >> Arthritis



This topic refers primarily to those who consider they currently have arthritis (whether or not they had been told by a doctor or nurse that they had the condition). Information about gout and rheumatism is also covered.


Information was obtained for all persons in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS).


The arthritis module differs from other condition-specific modules (asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes/high sugar levels and kidney disease) in the 2012-13 NATSIHS in that respondents were not immediately asked, in the first question of the module, whether they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse they have arthritis. Instead, respondents were asked whether they have, or had ever had:

  • gout
  • rheumatism
  • arthritis
  • osteoarthritis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • other types of arthritis.

Persons in non-remote areas that reported either gout or rheumatism were then asked whether their condition was expected to last for six months or more. Those in remote and non-remote areas that identified an arthritis condition, other than gout or rheumatism, were then asked whether they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they have the condition.

Respondents who reported only gout or rheumatism, identified that their arthritis was not current or that they had not been told by a doctor or nurse that they had an arthritis condition were asked no further questions in this module.

Respondents who identified their gout, rheumatism or arthritis conditions as not current or long-term did not have their condition retained in the survey as they did not have the appropriate criteria of either being diagnosed (as it was not asked) or being a long-term condition (which is the only retained group for non-diagnosed conditions).

Other than vitamins and herbal medicines, respondents that stated having arthritis were asked if they had used any medicines or tablets for treatment in the last two weeks.

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 distinction between arthritis, rheumatism and other joint disorders may be unclear to respondents, particularly those whose condition has not been medically diagnosed.
  • People resident in hospitals, nursing or convalescent homes or similar accommodation are not in scope of the NATSIHS. As the prevalence of arthritis increases with age, the number of people with arthritis may therefore be under-estimated.
  • Those cases of arthritis reported through the 'Long-term conditions' module, rather than the 'arthritis' module, have not necessarily been diagnosed by a doctor or nurse. Along with respondents who reported they were not diagnosed but had arthritis in the 'arthritis' module, they are identified by their conditions status of 4: Not known if ever told or not ever told, but condition current and long-term.

Comparability with 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS)

The 2004-05 NATSIHS is considered directly comparable with the 2012-13 survey.

Comparability with 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS)

Arthritis information was not collected in the 2008 NATSISS, therefore no comparisons can be made.

Comparability with 2011-12 National Health Survey (NHS)

The arthritis module in the non-remote component of the 2012-13 NATSIHS is essentially the same as the 2011-12 NHS and thus results from both surveys are considered comparable.

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