4363.0 - National Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2017-18  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/04/2019   
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This topic refers primarily to those who consider they currently have arthritis. Unlike other conditions, they do not need to have 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 NHS.


The arthritis module differs from other condition-specific modules (asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes/high sugar levels and kidney disease) in the NHS 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.

    • If so, whether they currently have the condition(s) and which one(s).

Respondents who reported that their arthritis was not current were asked no further questions in this module.

Those who reported that they currently had either gout or rheumatism were asked:
    • Whether their condition was expected to last for six months or more.

Those who reported only gout or rheumatism were asked no further questions in this module.

Respondents who identified a current arthritis condition, other than gout or rheumatism, were asked:
    • Whether they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they have the condition
    • If so, the age at which they were diagnosed.

Respondents whose arthritis was not diagnosed 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).

Data items

The questionnaire, data items and related output categories for this topic are available in pdf / 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 NHS. 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 'Other 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 or not ever told, but condition current and long-term.

Comparability with 2014-15

Estimates of the number of people with arthritis are considered directly comparable between the 2014-15 and 2017-18 NHS.

During processing of 2014-15 NHS data, an issue with coding of 'Gout' and 'Rheumatism' in the 2007-08 and 2011-12 NHS was identified in which some people who reported having these conditions were erroneously allocated a status of 'current and long-term', resulting in over-estimation of prevalence in 2007-08 and 2011-12. In 2007-08 'Gout' was over-reported by approximately 800,000 people and 'Rheumatism' by approximately 290,000 persons, while in 2011-12 'Gout' was over-reported by approximately 280,000 people and 'Rheumatism' by approximately 145,000 people. Data for 2007-08 and 2011-12 for these two conditions are not comparable to other years. ABS conducted investigations to address this issue and have attached i-notes to various publications with revisions.

More information regarding comparisons between 2014-15 NHS and previous cycles is available in the National Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4363.0).