About chronic conditions

Many Australians live with chronic conditions, which can cause illness, disability and even death. Find out what chronic conditions are and where to find more information about them.

What are chronic conditions?

The National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions uses the term chronic conditions to describe a broad range of health conditions, including:

  • chronic and complex health conditions
  • mental illness
  • trauma
  • disability
  • genetic disorders

Chronic conditions:

  • have complex and multiple causes
  • may occur as a single condition in a person, or along with other diseases (comorbidity)
  • usually progress gradually
  • can occur at any age, although they are more common as people get older
  • can affect quality of life
  • can create limitations and disability
  • are not usually immediately life-threatening, but can shorten life expectancy

Because of better treatments and management plans, people are living longer with chronic conditions.

Types of chronic conditions

There are many types of chronic conditions that affect Australians’ health. The links below contain information about conditions that we are addressing with current action plans and programs.

Information on other chronic conditions is available at healthdirect.

Why are chronic conditions important?

Chronic conditions are very common. Half of all Australians have at least 1 of the 8 major chronic conditions that the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare regularly reports on (arthritisasthmaback paincancercardiovascular diseasechronic obstructive pulmonary diseasediabetes and mental health conditions).

Many chronic conditions are not life threatening in the short term. However, they can worsen over time and become more serious. Chronic conditions can lower your quality of life and may affect your independence.

See more information about chronic conditions in Australia.

Last updated: 
3 March 2020

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