Featured reports

Evidence for chronic disease risk factors 

This report presents a conceptual framework of the pathways involved in the health of individuals and the population; known as determinants of health. It expands on the concept of risk factors and presents a matrix showing the relationship between selected chronic diseases and their known behavioural and biomedical risk factors.

Impact of overweight and obesity as a risk factor for chronic conditions 

This report updates and extends estimates of the burden due to overweight and obesity reported in the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 to include burden in people aged under 25, revised diseases linked to overweight and obesity based on the latest evidence, and estimates by socioeconomic group. The report includes scenario modelling, undertaken to assess the potential impact on future health burden if overweight and obesity in the population continues to rise or is reduced. The enhanced analysis in the report shows that 7.0% of the total health burden in Australia in 2011 is due to overweight and obesity, and that this burden increased with increasing level of socioeconomic disadvantage.

Latest reports

Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015: Interactive data on disease burden 

Burden of disease is a measure of the years of healthy life lost from living with, or dying from disease and injury. The interactive data visualisations display burden estimates from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015. Estimates for specific diseases and injuries for Australia are for the years 2003, 2011 and 2015 and for state/territory, remoteness area and socioeconomic group for 2011 and 2015.

This is part of the Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015 report. There is also another interactive data set to explore: risk factor burden.

A scoping study on data sources to assess the impact of chronic respiratory and musculoskeletal conditions on workplace productivity 

Chronic conditions are the leading cause of illness, disability and death in Australia and have lasting physical, psychological, social and financial impacts on individuals, communities and the healthcare system. Respiratory and musculoskeletal conditions are two groups of chronic conditions associated with substantial productivity loss and activity impairment. This scoping study assesses the available data sources for monitoring the relationship between these chronic conditions and workforce productivity.

Diabetes in pregnancy 2014–2015 

This report examines the short-term impact of pre-existing diabetes (type 1 or type 2) and gestational diabetes on mothers in pregnancy and their babies between 2014 and 2015. The report analyses data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Perinatal Data Collection.

Improving national reporting on diabetes in pregnancy: technical report 

Monitoring diabetes during pregnancy provides important information on the impact of diabetes during and after pregnancy on the health of mother and child. This report:

  • describes national data sources available for monitoring the effects of diabetes during pregnancy on mothers and babies
  • identifies current data gaps, alternate data sources for monitoring outcomes associated with diabetes in pregnancy, and possible data linkages to improve national monitoring of pregnancies affected by diabetes. 

Chronic conditions and disability 2015 

This report explores the association between 8 selected chronic conditions and disability in Australia: coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and related disorders, back pain and problems, osteoporosis, asthma and emphysema. These conditions are generally long term and persistent, and can lead to gradual deterioration of health, and disability. This report examines disability prevalence and severity; and the types of impairments, limitations and restrictions experienced by those with the selected conditions.

Osteoarthritis snapshot 

Osteoarthritis is a chronic and progressive condition that mostly affects the hands, spine and joints such as hips, knees and ankles. It is the most common form of arthritis and the predominant condition leading to knee and hip replacement surgery in Australia.

Osteoporosis snapshot 

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become thin, weak and fragile, such that even a minor bump or accident can cause a broken bone (minimal trauma fracture). Osteopenia is a condition when bone mineral density is lower than normal but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis.

Back problems snapshot 

Back problems are a range of conditions related to the bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles and nerves of the back. Back problems are a significant cause of disability and lost productivity.

Asthma snapshot 

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. People with asthma experience episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness due to widespread narrowing of the airways.

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) snapshot 

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) limits airflow in the lungs, which can lead to mild or severe shortness of breath that is not fully reversible even with treatment. COPD is a serious long-term disease that mainly affects older people, and includes conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.


Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that develops when an excess of uric acid in the blood leads to deposits of uric acid crystals in one or more joints, causing inflammation.

Juvenile arthritis 

Juvenile arthritis includes several different kinds of arthritis occurring in children, causing significant pain, disability and restrictions in school and other activities. Juvenile arthritis affects less than 1% of children and is more common in girls than boys.

Rheumatoid arthritis 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect anyone at any age, and may cause significant pain and disability.

Impact of physical inactivity as a risk factor for chronic conditions: Australian Burden of Disease  

This report details the impact of physical inactivity on disease burden in the Australian population. Results from this study suggest that prevention and intervention efforts may best be focused on sustained population-level increases in physical activity, by as little as 15 minutes each day, to avoid associated disease burden. It also highlights that health inequalities exist, with lower socioeconomic groups experiencing larger rates of disease burden due to physical inactivity.

Risk factors to health 

Health risk factors are attributes, characteristics or exposures that increase the likelihood of a person developing a disease or health disorder. Behavioural risk factors are those that individuals have the most ability to modify. Biomedical risk factors are bodily states that are often influenced by behavioural risk factors.

The burden of chronic respiratory conditions in Australia: a detailed analysis of the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 

This report presents information on the disease burden of chronic respiratory conditions using data from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011. Respiratory conditions were the sixth leading contributor to total burden of disease in Australia, with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and upper respiratory conditions being the greatest contributors to the respiratory burden. The burden due to respiratory conditions generally decreased over time, varied by condition severity and by population group, and some of the burden was attributed to modifiable risk factors such as tobacco use.

The burden of musculoskeletal conditions in Australia: a detailed analysis of the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 

This report presents findings from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 on the burden of musculoskeletal conditions in Australia. Musculoskeletal conditions were the fourth leading contributor to total burden of disease in Australia, with back pain and problems, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the greatest contributors to the musculoskeletal burden. The burden due to musculoskeletal conditions generally decreased over time, varied by condition severity and by population group, and some of the burden was attributed to modifiable risk factors such as overweight and obesity.

The use of lung function testing for the diagnosis and management of chronic airways disease 

This demonstration data linkage study investigates the use of lung function testing in the diagnosis and management of chronic airways disease. It uses data from the 45 and Up Study linked to Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data. The study shows that: - contrary to recommended guidelines, most study participants (82%) initiated on medications for managing their chronic airways disease did not have lung function testing performed within 12 months, either before or after their initial prescription - among respondents who reported having current asthma, lung function testing was only claimed for about one-quarter (26%) in a recent 3-year period and 12% had only 1 lung function test claim during that time. The evidence from this study will inform initiatives to help improve appropriate prescribing and health outcomes for people with chronic airways disease. This project also provides a demonstration of methods that could also potentially be used to fill evidence gaps associated with other chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and cancer.

Asthma, associated comorbidities and risk factors 

People with asthma often have other chronic diseases and long-term conditions. These are referred to as 'comorbidities'—two or more health problems that are present at the same time. Comorbidities are typically more common in older age groups.