This year, for the first time, the National Census included a question about Australians living with long-term health conditions. These are the first significant changes to the information collected in the Census since 2006. The changes allow the Census to collect data on health conditions such as, arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, or any mental illnesses, to inform health policy and planning for community services. Given its prevalence, this raises the question should chronic pain have a specific question in the census?
According to the survey we conducted, an overwhelming number of you (96%) said yes. Some of the comments from people living with chronic pain included:
“As a health condition within itself, chronic pain should be recognised in the census”;
“Absolutely - living with chronic pain / persistent pain conditions has a huge impact, personally, socially and economically”;
“Yes 100% especially with “long covid” and more people who will be experiencing chronic pain and illness. I feel sorry for them having to go through what we do with not being believed and having to beg and most times be rejected for pain relief by doctors who are uneducated on chronic pain. Maybe this will bring more compassion and awareness and make things easier for us to have access to pain relief instead of being treated like leper’s and drug seekers for wanting some normality back in our lives that pain medication can give us”; and
“Definitely. The lack of services is so depressing & ultimately, extremely expensive”.
The Census is an essential source of data as it guides governments’ decision making and informs researchers.
Having a specific question on chronic pain included in the Census would go a long way towards addressing the growing burden of pain conditions on our community and will inform preventive health programs and funding for local services.
We will continue to advocate for this to happen as planning for the next Census gets underway.