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Ear, Nose, Throat and Allergies, Colds & Flu down sharply in 2020 as COVID-19 changes living conditions

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, July – Sep 2020, n=16,541 and July – Sep 2020, n=3,400.
Base: Australians 14+. *See below for a full list of illnesses and conditions contained within each broader category.

New data from Roy Morgan shows fewer Australians are experiencing Health Conditions such as Ear, Nose & Throat infections, Allergies/Colds & Flu, Digestive System illnesses, Bones, Joints & Muscles issues and Heart & Circulation conditions than a year ago.

The largest decline from a year ago is for Ear, Nose & Throat conditions experienced by 44.9% of Australians in the last year, down a large 14.4% points on a year ago.

The second largest decline has been for Allergies, Colds and Flu conditions reported by 62.8% of Australians, down 9.8% points on a year ago.

The most widespread health conditions reported by Australians are Bones, Joints & Muscles issues experienced by 64.8%, but this represents a drop of 4.2% points on a year ago.

Also reported by fewer people than a year ago are Digestive System illnesses by 4.3% points to 46.2% and Heart & Circulation conditions, down 4% points to 25%.

However, as reported previously, there are some Health Conditions that are higher than a year ago led by Mental Health conditions, up 4.1% points to 44.1% of Australians, Behavioural issues, up 1.5% points to 8.7% and Brain & Nervous System conditions, up 1.4% points to 24.9%.

These findings are derived from the latest Roy Morgan health research into illnesses and medical conditions spanning over a decade from detailed in-depth interviews with over 50,000 Australians each year as part of the Roy Morgan Single Source survey.

% of Australians experiencing selected Health Conditions* Sep. Qtr. 2020 cf. Sep. Qtr. 2019

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, July – Sep 2020, n=16,541 and July – Sep 2020, n=3,400. Base: Australians 14+. *See below for a full list of illnesses and conditions contained within each broader category.

Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says:

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns enforced around Australia during 2020 have hugely impacted the way Australians conduct their daily lives and these effects are playing out in the illnesses and medical conditions Australians report experiencing this year.

“The closure of the international border, and many internal State borders, has not only stopped the spread of COVID-19 but also seasonal infections such as the Flu & Colds and other Ear, Nose & Throat infections – all of which are down significantly on a year ago.

“At the same time the societal lockdowns that forced some 4.3 million Australians to work from home (most of whom are still working from home even in November) and also closed down many sporting and other activities have had a demonstrable impact.

“These measures restricting the movement and interaction of Australians have meant far fewer Australians than a year ago report suffering from Bones, Joints & Muscles issues such as Fractures (broken bones), Knee pain, Shoulder pain, Tendonitis and Tennis Elbow that are often exacerbated, or even caused, by strenuous physical activities.

“However, there are some exceptions to this trend with illnesses and conditions that have seen an increase in prevalence from a year ago led by Mental Health issues such as Anxiety, Stress & Depression and also Behavioural illnesses including Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge drinking & eating.

“The biggest increases in Mental Health issues have come in the States of Victoria and Tasmania while only in Western Australia has there been a drop from a year ago. Behavioural illnesses have increased in all mainland States with the largest increase in Victoria which remained in a 16 week lockdown until the last week of October.

“These results illustrate a clear correlation between lockdowns and isolation from friends and family and increases in Mental Health and Behavioural issues that must be carefully considered when deciding on the correct response to future outbreaks of COVID-19 before a vaccine becomes widely available sometime next year.”

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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%