February 23, 2015

Looking After your Health Can Be a Full Time Job!

Tanisha Jowsey, Laurann Yen and Ian McRae, Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute, Australian National University.

Researchers at the Australian National University wanted to know how much time people spend on their health, so in 2010 they sent out a survey to find out. In an earlier study the team heard about difficulties people with chronic illnesses encounter in trying to make time for their health care alongside the other demands of their busy lives. However, no one in Australia has previously tried to measure what people do to manage their health and how much time they have to commit to it.

Six hundred and sixty one Lung Foundation Australia members were among those who responded to the survey that asked how much time they spent on everyday health related activity like taking medications; less frequent activity, such as rehabilitation and self-management programs; and how much time on interactions with the health system.

The results showed that older people generally spend about 30 minutes a day on looking after their health, but as the number of conditions a person has increases so does the time they spend. People with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), with four or more other conditions as well, spend more than three hours a day on ‘health work’.

As many LungNet readers will know, COPD and other illnesses can influence how much time you spend on other activities that are not specifically or only health-related. They can disturb your sleep, slow you down in your walking and mobility, and limit how much time you can spend on activities such as gardening. Our study has certainly not captured the true time burdens associated with chronic illness but we have made a start at capturing one aspect of it. Thank you to all those Lung Foundation Australia members who returned completed surveys to us – thank you for your time!

You Answered the Call, Now Read the Results – Managing your Health and the Time it Takes

Lung Foundation Australia was pleased to be able to assist the Australian National University in obtaining participants for this research project. A short synopsis of the project report is available below, with the more detailed report available from the Research section of our website www.lungfoundation.com.au/research/related-research.

If you do not have internet access and would like a copy, please contact our Information and Support Centre on 1800 654 301 and we will post one to you.