4364.0.55.002 - Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, Australia, 2014-15  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/03/2017   
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Arthritis is a musculoskeletal condition in which a person's joints become inflamed, which may result in pain, stiffness, disability and deformity. It is one of the major causes of chronic pain in Australia. Early prevention and diagnosis, prompt treatment and ongoing management can lessen the burden of musculoskeletal conditions1.

In 2014-15, 15.3% of Australians (3.5 million people) reported having arthritis, similar to 2011-12 (14.8%).

Of people with long-term arthritis, 53.0% had consulted a GP in the last 12 months for their condition, 16.6% had consulted a specialist and 21.8% had consulted an other type of health professional. The most common types of other health professional consulted were physiotherapists/hydrotherapists (8.7%) and radiographers (4.1%). Women were just as likely as were men to have consulted a GP for their arthritis in the last 12 months (53.0% and 53.1% respectively). However, women were more likely than men to have consulted an other health professional (24.0% and 18.1% respectively).

Of all people with arthritis who were currently employed or studying/at school, 11.8% had time off work or study/school in the last 12 months due to their condition.

Excluding the use of medications or supplements, the most common actions people with arthritis took in the last 2 weeks were exercising most days (24.6%), weight, strength or resistance training (13.7%), having a massage (11.8%) and losing weight (10.7%).

Graph Image for Persons with arthritis - Actions taken for arthritis in last 2 weeks, 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, 2014-15

Musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis may have significant physical and psychological impacts on individuals, such as loss of independence and increased risk of experiencing depression.2

The most common medications taken in the last 2 weeks by people with arthritis were analgesics (34.1%), and antidepressants (17.0%). In 2014-15, older Australians were more likely than younger Australians to have taken medication for their arthritis (93.8% of people aged 85 years and over compared with 60.6% of people aged 0-34).

1. Arthritis Australia, June 2012, What is arthritis, <http://www.arthritisaustralia.com.au/index.php/arthritis-information/what-is-arthritis.html>, Last accessed 15/12/2016.
2. Arthritis Australia, Jan 2011, Arthritis and emotions, <http://www.arthritisaustralia.com.au/images/stories/documents/info_sheets/2011/2011_updates/General_Information/Arthritis_and_Emotions.pdf>, Last accessed 15/12/2016.