All chronic conditions

Why are chronic health condition rates important?

A chronic health condition is an ongoing impairment characterised by a physical or mental condition, functional limitation, and service use or need beyond routine care. Typically these are long-lasting conditions with persistent effects, and arise from complex causes (AIHW 2014). The effect of a chronic condition on a young person’s life depends on many factors, such as the actual condition, its severity and effects on daily living, how well it can be managed or treated, care received and social support (Jackson 2013; Varni et al. 2007; Sawyer et al. 2007; Suris et al. 2008).

Do rates vary across population groups?

In 2011–12, 64% of young people aged 12–24 years had at least one long-term health condition (see definition in Notes section below). Young people aged 18–24 (71%) and females (69%) were more likely to have at least one long term health condition than 12–17 year olds (55%) and males (59%), respectively. Interestingly, 18–24 year olds and females were also more likely to have multiple (two and three or more) medical conditions than 12–17 year olds and males, respectively. There was no statistically significant difference between the proportions of Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people with long term health conditions (63% compared to 64%).

In 2011–12, short sightedness (17%) was the most common long-term condition among all young people, followed by asthma (10.1%), long-sightedness (9.1%) and mood problems (which includes depression) (7.3%). In 2011–13, the most common long-term condition among Indigenous young people was asthma (16.4%), followed by short sightedness (9.6%), long-sightedness (8.0%) and back problems (6.4%). Indigenous young people were more likely to be affected by deafness and asthma, while non-Indigenous young people were more likely to be affected by short sightedness.

Has there been a change between 2007–08 and 2011–12?

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, the only significant differences were increased proportions of males (from 54% to 59%) and all young people (from 60% to 64%) who had at least one long-term condition.

Of the types of long term conditions among all young people, the only significant change was a decrease in the proportion of all young people with back pain/problems from 7.0% in 2007–08 to 4.9% in 2011–12.