Main health condition

For about 4 in 5 (78.5%) people with disability, their main form of disability (that is, their main disabling condition or the one causing the most problems) is physical. This includes diseases of the:

  • musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (31%), such as back problems and arthritis
  • ear and mastoid process (7.4%), such as hearing loss and tinnitus
  • circulatory system (6.5%), such as heart disease and stroke
  • nervous system (6.4%), such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis (ABS 2016).

For the remaining 1 in 5 (21.5%), their main form of disability is mental or behavioural, including:

  • intellectual and developmental (6.3%), such as intellectual disability and autism
  • mood affective (4.2%), such as depression
  • dementia and Alzheimer’s (2.3%) (ABS 2016).

The rate (or prevalence) of disability within specific health conditions is not covered in this section. For information on this for selected chronic conditions see Chronic conditions and disability.


ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2016. Disability, ageing and carers, Australia: summary of findings, 2015. ABS cat. no. 4430.0. Canberra: ABS.[email protected]/mf/4430.0