Results of our 2020 National Consumer Survey


Here are just some of what people shared…

# 93% said their lives have been negatively impacted by their condition/s.

# 66% said their condition/s had an impact on family and personal relationships.

# 65% reported financial stress due to their condition/s.

# 50% reported that their condition/s had a negative impact on their mental health.

# 57% wanted affordable treatment options and services.

# 46% wanted more government support specifically for the ongoing cost of treatment.

Executive summary | Read the report | Download the report | Media release

First, we will open eyes. Then we must open hearts and minds

Australians have shared the impact of musculoskeletal conditions on their lives in the largest and most comprehensive consumer-driven survey

The numbers are alarming: 7 million Australians have a musculoskeletal condition. But it’s all too easy to let those 7 million people blur into a statistic. The reality is different.

As this survey reminds us, every one of those 7 million is a son or daughter, a sister or brother, a father, a mother, a grandparent, a friend, a teammate, a workmate. And 93% said their condition has had a negative impact on them.

Their stories are personal and painful: of lives diverted, families eroded, friendships abandoned, dreams crushed, potential unrealised. And yet despite these hardships people living with musculoskeletal conditions are stoic and resilient, with many taking an active role in managing their conditions using a range of approaches.

This report reveals for the first time the personal impacts of musculoskeletal conditions: of fellow Australians crying out for compassion, for understanding, for change, for a chance to make the best of the hand they’ve been dealt, for more support to help deal with the conditions that have intruded, unbidden and unwanted, into their lives.

It is time to make these invisible conditions visible.

“With musculoskeletal conditions affecting one in three Australians, it was imperative to understand the personal impacts that fellow Australians experience daily, This report reveals why so many are crying out for compassion, for understanding, for change, and the survey data now provides us opportunity to offer more support for the unwanted and difficult conditions that have intruded into people’s lives.”

Rob Anderson, CEO, Musculoskeletal Australia 

“Living with multiple musculoskeletal conditions for over 40 years since the age of 15, I have come across almost every issue identified in this valuable consumer survey,” says Annie McPherson, Chair of the MSK Consumer Advisory Committee. “This survey has been such an important process to allow the voices of people with musculoskeletal conditions to be heard and to make visible the impact of these conditions on their lives. It is so important for health consumers to have the most up-to-date health information to guide informed decisions and manage their conditions on a daily basis. I just wish good quality information and services had been available to my mother and I in regional Victoria in the early 1970s – perhaps I would not be so crippled and limited in my physical abilities these days.”
Annie McPherson, Chair of the MSK Consumer Advisory Committee

Our partners 

“This survey provides a voice to many who live with a condition that is often difficult to describe to those who don’t experience it.  It underscores the recent decision of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to expand the definition of pain to include musculoskeletal conditions, recognising just how significant they are as a contributor to the overall burden of disease and being one of the most likely conditions to force people into early retirement, experience loss of function and have a major impact on quality of life.  If we want to seriously address one of major causes of disability in our community, we must throw a light on this most common of causes.”
Carol Bennett, CEO, Pain Australia

A bit about us

Musculoskeletal Australia (MSK) is a national not-for-profit consumer organisation providing information, education and support for individuals and those that support them, as well as undertaking related policy and advocacy work: we care about people and their personal conditions and circumstances.

How we can help

Contact our Help Line and speak to our nurses. Phone 1800 263 265 or email
We can help you find out more about:

Contact us

If you have questions, comments or feedback at any time about the survey, contact Helen Jentz, CEO on +61 03 8531 8000 or by email

musculoskeletal health australia

Musculoskeletal Health Australia (or MHA) is the consumer organisation working with, and advocating on behalf of, people with arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, gout and over 150 other musculoskeletal conditions.

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