Highlights

Most of the burden of disease in 2011 was from chronic diseases. Cancer caused the greatest amount of burden (19%), followed by cardiovascular diseases (15%), mental and substance use disorders (12%), musculoskeletal conditions (12%) and injuries (9%). Together these disease groups accounted for around two-thirds of the total burden of disease in Australia.

Proportion (%) of total, fatal and non-fatal burden by disease group, 2011

Graphic for Proportion (%25) of total, fatal and non-fatal burden by disease group, 2011  

The six leading specific causes of burden in Australia in 2011 were: coronary heart disease, other musculoskeletal conditions (which includes chronic pain in joints, muscles and other soft tissue, and systemic lupus erythematosus), back pain & problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and dementia.

After accounting for population increase and ageing between 2003 and 2011, there was a 10% reduction in total burden. The greatest reductions were seen in fatal burden and for total burden due to cardiovascular diseases.

About a third of the burden experienced by the population could be prevented by reducing the exposure to modifiable risk factors. The risk factors causing the most burden were tobacco use, high body mass, alcohol use, physical inactivity and high blood pressure.