Improving the prevention and management of chronic conditions

Chronic conditions are persistent or long-term illnesses, injuries and social problems that cause significant functionalimpairment, disability or disadvantage and often need ongoing care and support.

Chronic conditions can affect people of all ages, and include mental health and psychosocial conditions as well as physical health issues.

Impact and scale of the issue

Chronic disease is the leading cause of death in Australia, the most common diseases being cancer, heart disease, chronic lung disease and diabetes. The most common long-term conditions in Australia are arthritis, mental and behavioural conditions, asthma and heart disease.

Chronic conditions challenge our health system. People with chronic conditions require and use more health services over longer periods of time.

This is an important issue for Tasmania. Chronic disease is responsible for a significant proportion of reported illness, disability and mortality in Tasmania.

Health inequity and chronic conditions

Chronic conditions are most prevalent in more disadvantaged population groups.

In Australia, people from diverse cultural and indigenous backgrounds, socio-economically disadvantaged groups, rural and remote populations and people with disabilities are generally at increased risk of chronic conditions.

Living with chronic conditions can increase social inequities; it can reduce family income and prosperity, and reduce opportunities for family members.

Evidence that health promotion action can bring about change

A number of the major chronic diseases can be prevented, their onset delayed or their progression slowed by eliminating the shared risk factors of tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.

Effective strategies for reducing risk factors for chronic diseases aim to help everyone to make healthy choices.

Evidence shows supporting people to self-manage their own health and care can result in significant gains in health status, improved symptom management and reduced health service use.

Visit the evidence library to find more information about this principle.