The following is a summary of a research project by the authors. For more information please contact Associate Professor Tracy Comans at the University of Queensland (email:

Authors: Tracy A Comans1 and Kim-Huong Nguyen1

  1. Centre for Health Services Research, The University of Queensland

Having more than one health conditions can impact on your quality of life. But in Australia there is limited information on the additional quality of life impact of each extra condition.

We conducted an online survey of nearly 5,000 people in Australia, and asked them about their quality of life, income, education, marital status, and whether they had any of 15 common health conditions.

We found that people with very common conditions, such as arthritis and anxiety or depression, have substantially lower quality of life than other people, all else being equal. In particular, having a mental health condition reduced quality of life by 20%, while nervous system conditions such as stroke reduced quality of life by 16%.

Additionally, each extra health condition significantly worsens quality of life. On average, people rated their quality of life 89%, but for people who had five or more conditions, this dropped to their quality of life to only 45%.

Effective management and treatment options are often available, and a large proportion of health spending is already directed to musculoskeletal and mental health conditions. Although we have more research to do, ensuring that funding is directed towards treatment and management options that provide good value for money may improve people’s quality of life without costing more overall to the health system.

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