• Print

People with diabetes are twice as likely to have a disability as people without diabetes, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Diabetes and disability: impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions and comorbidities, also shows that more serious disabilities are more common in people with diabetes.

Disability refers to any impairment, activity limitation or participation restriction. This could range from minor restrictions in everyday activities to profound sensory loss such as sight.

More serious disabilities are described as severe or profound core activity limitations-meaning that a person sometimes or always needs help with one or more core activities of daily living-activities related to mobility, communication and self-care.

'Rates of disability among people with diabetes were 39% compared with 17% for those without diabetes, after adjusting for age differences,' said AIHW spokesperson Susana Senes.

'And the rate of severe or profound limitation among people with diabetes was 14% compared with 5% for those without diabetes.

'While there is clearly an association between diabetes and disability, from these data we are unable to draw any conclusions about the causes of this association.'

The most common disability was restriction in physical activities or work, and Ms Senes said the combination of diabetes and disability had a big impact on employment participation.

'Among working-age people with diabetes and disability, 40% said they were permanently unable to work, compared with 20% of people with a disability who did not have diabetes,' she said.

'In 2009, an estimated 827,020 people in Australia had diabetes. Of these, 357,829 reported that diabetes was the health condition causing them the most problems. Of all people with diabetes, 441,640 reported they had a disability,' Ms Senes said.

'Compared with people without diabetes, people with diabetes also reported higher rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, depression, vision loss and kidney related disorders.

'Ten per cent of people with diabetes reported having had a stroke and more than 15% reported having heart disease.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 30 October 2013

Further information: Susana Senes, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1171, mob. 0418 271 395

Full publication: Diabetes and disability: impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions and comorbidities