More Australians with severe disability report having poor health compared to those without disability. According to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), more than half of Australians aged 15-64 with severe or profound disability rated their health as poor or fair, compared to 6 per cent of those without disability. This group were also twice as likely to smoke daily or start smoking before the age of 18 and had a higher prevalence of various long-term health conditions. Almost half reported doing no physical exercise and were 1.7 times as likely as those without disability to be obese.
As well, half of people under 65 with severe or profound disability had mental health conditions, compared with 8 per cent for those without disability, said AIHW spokesperson, Mark Cooper-Stanbury. Additionally, they were more likely to acquire a mental health condition before the age of 25. This group were also four times as likely to have arthritis and half acquired the condition before the age of 45, compared with 37 per cent for those without disability.