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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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 independence1.

Much like arthritis, early prevention, diagnosis, prompt treatment and ongoing management can lessen the effects of osteoporosis. Musculoskeletal conditions can be managed by medications aimed at reducing pain, increasing mobility and slowing the progression of inflammation or the loss of bone mass. Physiotherapy and exercise are important in treating musculoskeletal conditions and can effectively reduce pain and loss of independence caused by osteoporosis.

In 2011-12, 3.3% of Australians (726,000 people) reported having osteoporosis.

Of all people with osteoporosis, 53.2% had consulted a GP in the last 12 months for their condition, 15.5% had consulted a specialist and 10.0% had consulted an other type of health professional (of which the most common were physiotherapists/hydrotherapists at 3.3%). While similar proportions of males and females had consulted a GP in the last 12 months, proportionally more males than females had consulted a specialist (23.9% compared with 13.5% respectively).

Of all people with osteoporosis who were currently employed, at school or studying, 7.5% had time off work or school/study in the last 12 months due to their condition.

Bone density testing is important for people with osteoporosis or those at risk of getting osteoporosis. A bone density test uses X-rays to measure the amount of calcium and other bone minerals in a segment of bone. This helps determine what level of risk a person is at of breaking bones. In 2011-12, 80.6% people with osteoporosis had had their bone density tested in the past. This was an increase over 2007-08, when 73.7% had had their bone density tested. The increase was greater for men than women.

Graph Image for Propotion of persons with osteoporosis who ever tested their bone density, 2007-08 and 2011-12

Excluding the use of medications, the most common actions people took in the last 2 weeks for their osteoporosis were exercising most days (24.1%), weight, strength or resistance training (10.4%), and having a massage (5.3%).

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

The most common medications taken in the last 2 weeks by persons with osteoporosis were analgesics (34.0%), antidepressants (20.4%), bisphosphonates (10.8%) and 'anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic products, non-steroids' (9.8%).

Musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoporosis may have significant physical and psychological impacts on individuals, such as loss of independence and increased risk of experiencing depression2. In 2011-12, proportionally more women with osteoporosis than men with osteoporosis took antidepressants in the last 2 weeks (21.8% and 14.4% respectively).

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

1. Osteoporosis Australia, Feb 2013, What is osteoporosis?, <http://www.osteoporosis.org.au/about/about-osteoporosis/what-is-it/>, Last accessed 22/03/2013.

2. National Institute of Mental Health, June 2012, Depression and Osteoporosis, <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-and-osteoporosis/depression-and-osteoporosis.shtml>, Last accessed 22/03/2013.

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