New Report Highlights Impact of Lung Disease

A new report released today reveals lung disease contributes to more than 10 per cent of the overall health burden in Australia.

Lung Foundation Australia CEO Heather Allan said the report, prepared especially for Lung Foundation Australia by the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, summarises in one place and for the first time, information about the overall prevalence, burden and impact of lung disease in Australia.

Mrs Allan said that, while statistics on various lung diseases are collected, they are not necessarily reported together.

“In order to get a true impact of lung disease in Australia, Lung Foundation Australia felt it was important to commission this summary report that brings all the important statistics together,” she said.

Lung Disease in Australia summarises information on chronic respiratory disease (including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and others), respiratory infections (influenza, pneumonia, etc) and respiratory neoplasms, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Woolcock Institute researcher Associate Professor Helen Reddel said mortality due to lung disease is significant with 14%, or one in seven deaths in 2012, a result of lung disease [1].

Professor Reddel said the report found lung disease was the cause of:

  • 276,505 hospitalisations in 2011-12, representing 2.99% of all hospitalisations
  • more than 1.4 million hospital patient-days in 2011-12, representing 5.07% of all patient-days

Among people with lung disease in Australia:

  • Lower respiratory infections are the leading cause of hospitalisation
  • Asthma represents the leading cause of people living with disability (less than perfect health)
  • Lung cancer represents the leading cause of death (40% of deaths from lung disease)
  • COPD contributes one-third of the burden
  • COPD contributes almost one-third of all deaths.

Lung Foundation’s Heather Allan said the report highlighted the disconnect between the significant impact of lung disease and the fact most people simply don’t think about the health of their lungs.

“Research conducted earlier this year by the Lung Foundation found most Australians believed they had no lung health issues and very few actually gave their lung health much thought,” she said.

“In fact, more than 50 per cent of all Australian adults rarely or never think about the health of their lungs [2].

“Despite this, three out of five Australian adults studied reported symptoms or risk factors that put them at risk of possible lung disease2.”

Mrs Allan said the Lung Foundation has chosen November which is Lung Health Awareness Month to release Lung Disease in Australia.

“We think about our breast health and our heart health.  It is time we started the conversation about our lung health.”

“Coinciding with the launch of this report, Lung Foundation Australia has also teamed up with celebrities including Archie Roach, James Morrison and Christine Anu to launch a new campaign encouraging people to celebrate the value of breath – to get them thinking about what they can do with … just one breath.

To find out more about the campaign or take a simple two minute online health check, please visit


Read the full report here.


[1]  Lung Disease in Australia, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, October 2014.

[2]  Galaxy Research Omnibus, January 2014 (wave 1)