4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/12/2015   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All



Arthritis refers to a range of musculoskeletal conditions where a person's joints become inflamed, which may result in pain, stiffness, disability and deformity. These symptoms can often have a significant impact on a person's everyday functioning life[1].

In 2014-15, 15.3% of Australians (3.5 million people) had arthritis, with prevalence higher amongst women than men (18.3% compared with 12.3%).

Of persons with arthritis, more than half (58.9%) had osteoarthritis (deterioration of cartilage inside a joint), 11.5% had rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease in which the body is attacked by bacteria or viruses) and 34.8% had an unspecified type of arthritis. Note that as it is possible to have more than one type of arthritis, proportions add to more than 100%.

The prevalence of arthritis increases with age, particularly for women. In 2014-15, women aged 55 years and over were considerably more likely to have arthritis than men (51.4% compared with 35.2%).

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with arthritis, 2001 to 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15


Osteoporosis is a condition of the musculoskeletal system in which a person's bones become fragile and brittle, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Fractures can lead to chronic pain, disability and loss of independence[2].

In 2014-15, 801,800 Australians (3.5%) had osteoporosis. The proportion of people with osteoporosis more than doubled between 2001 and 2007-08 (from 1.6% to 3.4%) but has remained stable since then (3.3% in 2011-12).

Similar to arthritis, osteoporosis is considerably more common amongst women than men (5.5% of all females having osteoporosis in 2014-15 compared with 1.4% of all males), and is more common at older ages. Around one in five women (25.8%) aged 75 years and over had osteoporosis in 2014-15, compared with one in fourteen men (7.2%) of the same age.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with osteoporosis, 2001 to 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15


1 Arthritis Australia, 'What is arthritis?', <http://www.arthritisaustralia.com.au/index.php/arthritis-information/what-is-arthritis.html>; last accessed 01/12/2015
2 Osteoporosis Australia, What you need to know about Osteoporosis - 2nd Edition, August 2014 <http://www.osteoporosis.org.au/sites/default/files/files/oa_consumer_ed2_Aug2014.pdf>; last accessed 01/12/2015