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Keywords:

  • chronic illness;
  • co-morbid;
  • chronic illness;
  • health policy;
  • multi-morbid;
  • prevalence

Abstract

Objective: To examine current health policy in Australia and New Zealand and assess the extent to which the policies equip these countries to meet the challenges associated with increasing rates of multi-morbid chronic illnesses.

Method: We examined reports from agencies holding data relating to chronic illness in both countries, looking at prevalence trends and the frequency of multiple morbidities being recorded. We undertook content analysis of health policy documents from Australian and New Zealand government agencies.

Results: The majority of people with chronic illness have multiple morbidities. Multi-morbid chronic illnesses significantly effect the health of people in both Australia and New Zealand and place substantial demands on the health systems of those countries. These consequences are both predicted to increase dramatically in the near future. Despite this, neither country explicitly acknowledges multi-morbidity as a major factor in their policies addressing chronic illness.

Conclusion and Implication: In addition to considering policy responses to chronic illness, policy makers should explicitly consider policies shaped to address the needs of people with multi-morbid chronic illness.