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This bulletin is the second in a series about health of people with disability. It examines the use of health services among Australians with disability based on national population health survey data.
Australians with severe or profound disability are extensive users of professional health services. This high use is associated with a high prevalence of multiple long-term health conditions, and comorbidity of mental disorders and physical conditions (AIHW 2010). Severe or profound disability is strongly related to the use of health services, even after taking into account multiple health conditions and comorbidity of mental and physical conditions. This may be partly related to the level of functional impairments that increase the likelihood of needing and seeking assistance from the health-care system.
This analysis is based on the data from the 2007–08 National Health Survey and the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Because of the data limitations (Box 1), the focus of this analysis is on people aged 15–64 years with severe or profound disability, defined by the ABS surveys as ‘sometimes or always requiring personal help or supervision with the core activities of self-care, mobility and communication’.
Compared with people without disability, people aged 15–64 years with severe or profound disability were:
The high use of health professional services was particularly related to services provided by specialist doctors, occupational therapists, and social workers or welfare workers.
When comorbidity of significant long-term health conditions was controlled for, among people aged 15–64 years with three or more conditions, 63% of those with severe or profound disability consulted both specialist doctors and other health professionals, compared with 27% of those without disability. Of people with comorbidity of mental disorders and physical conditions, 58% of those with severe or profound disability consulted both specialist doctors and other professionals, compared with 26% of those without disability.
The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing covers people aged 16 to 85 years. During the 12 months before the 2007 survey, among all people aged 16–64 years with mental disorders, people with severe or profound disability were more likely than those without disability to:
Of all people aged 16–64 years who had comorbidity of mental disorders and any physical conditions, people with severe or profound disability were more likely than those without disability to:
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