Disability and health have a complex relationship. Long-term health conditions might lead to disability, and disability can contribute to health problems (see Defining disability). The nature and level of a person’s disability can also influence their health. For example, it may limit access to, and participation in, social and physical activities.

In general, people with disability report poorer general health and higher levels of psychological distress than people without disability. People with disability also have higher rates of some modifiable health risk factors and behaviours, such as poor diet and tobacco smoking, than people without disability.

This domain explores aspects of health for people with disability, from health status, to health risk factors and behaviours, to use of health services, and barriers to accessing health services.

Summary card showing key statistics for health status. The card shows that adults with disability are 6 times as likely as those without disability to assess their health as 'poor' or 'fair'. 
Adults with severe or profound disability are almost 12 times as likely as adults without disability to experience a 'very high' level of psychological distress (19%, compared with 1.6%).

Summary card showing key statistics for health risks. The card shows that: 

  • 47% of people with disability (aged 2 and over) do not eat enough fruit and vegetables, compared with 41% of those without disability. 
  • 72% of people with disability (aged 2 and over) are overweight or obese, compared with 55% of those without disability. 
  • 54% of people with disability (aged 18 and over) have hypertension, compared with 27% of those without disability. 
  • 31% of people with disability (aged 15 and over) exceed the recommended guidelines for single occasion alcohol risk, compared with 44% of those without disability.

Summary card showing key statistics for chronic conditions. The card shows that 2.8 million Australians with 1 or more of 8 selected chronic conditions also have disability. For example, around 4 in 5 people with emphysema as their main chronic condition have disability.

Summary card showing key statistics for access to health services. The card shows that 7.6% of people aged under 65 with disability delayed or did not see a GP when needed to because of cost. People with severe or profound disability (47%) were more likely than people with other disability status (34%) to see 3 or more health professionals for the same condition.