4364.0.55.002 - Australian Health Survey: Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, 2011-12  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/03/2013  First Issue
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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 and disability in Australia. Early prevention and diagnosis, prompt treatment and ongoing management can lessen the burden of musculoskeletal conditions1.

In 2011-12, 14.8% of Australians (or around 3.3 million people) reported having arthritis.

Of all people with arthritis, 53.1% had consulted a GP in the last 12 months for their condition, 16.8% had consulted a specialist and 17.3% had consulted an other type of health professional. The most common types of other health professionals consulted were physiotherapists/hydrotherapists (7.5%), chiropractors (3.2%) and chemists for advice (3.0%). Proportionally more females had consulted a GP in the last 12 months than males (57.2% and 46.2% respectively).

Of all people with arthritis who were currently employed or studying/at school, 11.3% 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 (24.2%), weight, strength or resistance training (10.9%), having a massage (10.6%) and losing weight (10.1%).

Graph Image for All persons with arthritis - Actions taken for arthritis in last 2 weeks, 2011-12

The most common medications taken in the last 2 weeks by people with arthritis were analgesics (34.6%), and antidepressants (16.7%), followed by meloxicam (4.4%) and celecoxib (3.7%), both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

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 In 2011-12, proportionally more females with arthritis than males with arthritis took antidepressants (20.1% and 11.1% respectively).

For more information see Table 6 Arthritis: Actions and medications taken and Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001).

1. Arthritis Australia, June 2012, What is arthritis, <http://www.arthritisaustralia.com.au/index.php/arthritis-information/what-is-arthritis.html>, Last accessed 22/03/2013.

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 22/03/2013.

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