Back To Listing

Bones, Joints, Muscle conditions and Allergies/Cold & Flu most prevalent health issues for Australians

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, January – December 2018. n=50,853. Base: Australians 14+.

Over 19.3 million Australians aged 14+ (94.4%) suffered from at least one form of illness or medical condition in 2018 according to the latest Roy Morgan health research into the illnesses and medical conditions of Australians based on interviews with over 50,000 Australians during 2018 as part of the Roy Morgan Single Source survey.

The two most common illnesses and medical conditions experienced by Australians in 2018 were medical conditions related to Bones, Joints, Muscles suffered by 68%, or just over 13.9 million Australians, and Allergies/Cold & Flu illnesses suffered by over 13.8 million Australians (67.6%).

Ear, Nose and Throat conditions were experienced by over 11.1 million Australians (54.6%) in 2018 and over 10.1 million Australians (49.5%) suffered from illnesses and conditions related to their Digestive Systems.

Other leading types of illnesses and conditions suffered by at least 5 million Australians in 2018 included Lungs & Breathing conditions (45.5%), Skin, Hair & Nails conditions (44.9%), Mental Health illnesses (38.3%), Mouth & Teeth conditions (29.4%), Heart & Circulation conditions (26.9%) and medical conditions and illnesses related to Reproduction (25.4%).

Top 10 Illness/Condition Categories in 2018

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, January – December 2018. n=50,853. Base: Australians 14+. 

Colds most common, but Back pain and also Muscular aches & pains impact over a third

Colds are the most common illness or condition with over 10.5 million Australians (51.3%) experiencing a Cold in 2018. Almost equal numbers of women (over 5.4 million) and men (over 5.1 million) suffered from a Cold in 2018.

Conditions related to Bones, Joints, Muscles were led by Back pain suffered by nearly 8 million Australians (38.5%) and Muscular aches & pains suffered by just under 7 million Australians (33.9%). Other widespread conditions in this category include Knee pain experienced by nearly 5 million Australians (24%) and Shoulder pain reported by nearly 4.5 million Australians (22%).

The leading Mental Health issue is Stress which was experienced by over 5.6 million Australians (27.8%) in 2018 while 4.2 million Australians (20.7%) suffered from Anxiety in 2018.

The leading illness in the Ear, Nose, Throat category in 2018 is the Sore throat experienced by 6.4 million Australians (31.3%) while the Allergy of Hay Fever was reported by 5.4 million Australians (26.4%).

Top 10 most prevalent Illnesses & Conditions in 2018

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, January – December 2018. n=50,853. Base: Australians 14+.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan, says over 19.3 million Australians experienced an illness or medical condition in 2018 with over two-thirds reporting suffering a condition related to Bones, Joints or Muscles the most common category of ailment:

“Roy Morgan’s extensive research into the health of Australians shows millions of Australians experienced illnesses and medical conditions in 2018. Conditions classified in the Bones, Joints or Muscles category which includes Back pain, Muscular aches & pains, Knee pain and Shoulder pain, were experienced by over 13.9 million Australians – more than any other type of condition.

“Almost as many Australians were afflicted by Allergies/ Cold & Flu including Hay Fever at some point in 2018. Previous research from Roy Morgan shows we are heading into the peak season for purchases of cough lollies, tissues and handkerchiefs to deal with the effects of the common cold that strikes many during the Winter months. Over 13.8 million Australians contracted a Cold or Flu or had an Allergy of some sort last year.

“Analysing the leading illnesses and medical conditions that Australians dealt with in 2018 shows more than a third of Australians reported having an illness or condition from each of the following categories: Ear, Nose or Throat conditions, Digestive system problems, Lungs & Breathing issues, Skin, Hair & Nail related ailments and Mental Health problems.

“Digging into the data shows significant differences between the types of illnesses and conditions that women and men tend to suffer from. Women are more likely to report suffering from Back pain and Shoulder pain, Stress, Leg cramps, Arthritis, Fatigue and Dry skin & itching problems whereas men are more likely to report contracting the Flu, or suffering from High blood pressure, Tooth decay, Hearing loss, Tinnitus, Diabetes and Athlete’s Foot.

“Despite both women and men experiencing various medical problems it is women who are more likely to get on the front foot and seek out a solution. In-depth Roy Morgan research released in 2018 revealed that over 17.8 million (88.7% of Australians) take medication in an average year including 9.4 million women and 8.4 million men.

“To learn more about the types of illnesses and medical conditions Australians of all ages are suffering from and what actions they take to return to health, including visiting the doctor, seeking out information to help find a solution, and what medicines and supplements Australians take to overcome illnesses and medical conditions contact Roy Morgan for more information.”

For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%