Care of patients with chronic disease: achievements in Australia over the past decade

Mark F Harris, Ben Harris-Roxas and Andrew W Knight
Med J Aust 2018; 209 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/mja18.00333
Published online: 16 July 2018

Rising rates of chronic disease and multimorbidity require better quality of care and services integration

A decade ago, our review called for better integrated and more comprehensive chronic disease management.1 Chronic conditions continue to be the major challenge confronting the Australian health system, with more than half of the adult population reporting long term conditions.2 Premature mortality rates have declined, especially for cardiovascular disease, although it remains the leading cause of preventable death.3 Survival from cancer has increased — with greater demands on patients and services as survivors may have complications or comorbidities.4 Addressing smoking, poor nutrition, hazardous alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity as behavioural risk factors is essential to the control of long term conditions and their complications. There has been some success with tobacco use declining to 13% of the population, although it still accounts for the largest contribution to the burden of disease. Nevertheless, other risk factors have not improved. For example, the proportion of Australians who are overweight or obese (body mass index, ≥ 25 kg/m2) increased from 61% in 2007–08 to 63% in 2014–15.5

  • Mark F Harris1
  • Ben Harris-Roxas1
  • Andrew W Knight1,2

  • 1 Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 Improvement Foundation, Adelaide, SA


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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