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Health conditions

Chronic disease prevalence

Chronic conditions are long-term health conditions with long-lasting and persistent effects. Depending on the definition used, they can include conditions that range in severity from having a big impact on life expectancy and quality of life (for example some cancers) to conditions with only a limited impact (for example some allergies). The statistics presented in this section show the prevalence of the wide range of conditions included as long-term conditions in ABS surveys. More restrictive selections of the most serious or prevalent chronic conditions are sometimes used in other contexts.

The AIHW commonly reports on 10 major chronic condition groups: arthritis, asthma, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, mental health conditions and osteoporosis.

These chronic conditions were selected for reporting because they are common, pose significant health problems, have been the focus of ongoing AIHW surveillance efforts and, in many instances, action can be taken to prevent their occurrence.

In 2018–19, two-thirds (67%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (545,200 people) had a long-term health condition. The proportion of Indigenous Australians with long-term health conditions decreased with increasing remoteness, from 73% in Major cities (224,400 people) to 53% in Very remote areas (51,100 people) (Figure HC 4).


In 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians (based on self-reported data): 

  • 67% had 1 or more long-term health conditions.
  • 36% had 3 or more long-term health conditions (ABS 2019).

Based on age-standardised rates (see Data and notes), the estimates of people with long-term health conditions showed:

  • 25% of Indigenous Australians (in 2018–19) and 23% of non-Indigenous Australians (in 2017–18) had no current long-term health conditions.
  • 47% of Indigenous Australians and 42% of non-Indigenous Australians had 3 or more long-term health conditions (Figure HC 5).

Among Indigenous Australians in 2018–19, commonly reported long-term health conditions included eye and sight problems (38% of people, or 307,300 people), mental and behavioural conditions (24%, or 187,500 people) and asthma (16%, or 127,700 people) (Figure HC 6).