National Health Priority Areas

There are currently 9 National Health Priority Areas (NHPAs), each selected for their high level of burden on the Australian population. Each NHPA has a set of main risk factors (determinants) and reasons for selection, including large direct, indirect or intangible cost to the Australian community. It is also important to be familiar with the health promotion strategies related to each goal, and have an understanding of the aims of each, and how they target their audience.

For each NHPA, we look at:

  • their key features (what they are)
  • why they were chosen as an NHPA
  • what are their costs (direct, indirect and intangible) to both the ill person and those around them
  • what factors increase risk of the disease
  • one health promotion strategy that aims to reduce burden of disease from each NHPA

Injury Prevention & Control

Reasons for Selection: Greatest cause of death in first half of life, can result in long term illness/disability and accounted for 6.5% of burden of disease in 2010
Major Determinants:

  • Age — youth (risk taking behaviour e.g. drink driving), old age (greater risk of falls)
  • Sex — males more likely to engage in risk taking behaviour
  • home environment — lack of rails in showers, etc
  • work environment — power tools, unsafe environment, lack of training etc
  • osteoporosis

Health Promotion Campaign/Strategy: Worksafe Victoria’s ‘It Doesn’t Hurt to Speak Up’ campaign, TAC’s ‘Bloody Idiot’ campaigns


Reasons for Selection: 1 in 10 Australians have Asthma (high prevalence), 0.9% all direct health expenditure, greatly affects quality of life
Major Determinants:

  • home environment — smoking’s effects on children
  • work environment — exposure to dust, sawdust, chemicals which exacerbate asthma
  • BMI — obesity exacerbates asthma
  • smoking (exacerbation)

Health Promotion Campaign/Strategy: ‘Live Love Play’ – Asthma Australia

Cardiovascular Health

Reasons for Selection: 1 in 6 Australians had cardiovascular disease in ’06-’07, 1 in 3 over the age 25 had high blood pressure (’99-2000), 11% health expenditure (’04-’05), 1 in 3 deaths caused by CVD in 2009 (mortality, YLL)
Major Determinants:

  • diet — high fat, high sodium
  • exercise — low or none
  • work environment — sedentary job
  • stress
  • family history (genetics)

Health Promotion Campaign/Strategy: Heart Foundation ‘Tick of Approval’, ‘Measure Up’

Arthritis & Musculoskeletal Conditions

Reasons for Selection: Most common chronic disease – approx 1 in 3 people affected, 4th leading contributor to direct health expenditure
Major Determinants:

  • diet — low calcium, high salt
  • low vitamin D
  • alcohol intake
  • smoking
  • sex — females post menopause at risk due to hormones
  • obesity — places stress on joints (osteoporosis)
  • family history (genetics)

Health Promotion Campaign/Strategy: Arthritis Week, International Arthritis Day, Dairy Australia’s ‘National Healthy Bones Week’

Mental Health

Reasons for Selection: 24% of YLDs in Australia, 20% of people between ages 18-85 had a mental illness in 2006
Major Determinants:

  • poor social supports
  • violent family environment
  • stress
  • family history (genetics)

Health Promotion Campaign/Strategy: ‘R U OK? Day’, Queensland Govt. ‘Change our Minds’ campaign, Headspace’s ‘National Awareness Campaign’


Reasons for Selection: 1 in 10 and 3 in 10 Australians over the ages of 65 and 85 respectively suffered from dementia in 2011, prevalence expected to rise drastically with ageing population
Major Determinants:

  • age
  • cognitive use throughout life (behaviour)

Health Promotion Campaign/Strategy: ‘Fight Dementia’

Diabetes Mellitus

Reasons for Selection: 4% of Australians have diabetes, high prevalence of diabetes in indigenous populations
Major Determinants:

  • diet — high GI (type 2)
  • pregnancy (gestational)
  • family history (types 1 and 2)
  • low SES (as contributes to poorer diet)

Health Promotion Campaign/Strategy: ‘Swap it, Don’t stop it’, ‘Measure Up’, ‘Healthy Active Australia’


Reasons for Selection: 3rd highest burden of disease, 3 in 5 Australians are overweight/obese, HUGE amount of co-morbidities such as CVD, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, etc
Major Determinants:

  • diet — high fat
  • lack of exercise
  • transport use instead of walking
  • sedentary environments at home, work etc.
  • lack of community facilities e.g. gyms, parks, bike paths
  • low SES (associated with poor diet)

Health Promotion Campaign/Strategy: ‘Swap it, Don’t Stop it’ campaign, Australian Guidelines for Healthy Eating,

Cancer Control

Reasons for Selection: 30% of all Australian deaths (2010), 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women have had cancer by age 85 (2009)
Major Determinants:

  • age (older, increase)
  • sex (women for breast, ovarian cancer, men for prostate etc)
  • sun exposure (skin cancer)
  • diet — low fibre, high red meat (colon cancer)
  • genetics (many cancers via mutated inherited genes)
  • smoking (predominantly lung cancer, but other cancers)

Health Promotion Campaigns/Strategies: ‘Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide’ campaign to reduce skin cancer, ‘Every cigarette is doing you damage’ to combat lung cancer