Australians may overinflate their risk of disease
AUSTRALIANS may overestimate their risk of contracting some serious diseases, a recent opinion poll has shown.
Respondents were more worried about contracting arthritis than any other disease, with 43% believing they had a one in 10 or more chance of contracting it during their lifetime, which is a realistic view according to Arthritis Australia.
Anxiety or depression were the next biggest perceived risk, with 39% of those polled expecting to contract one or the other condition during their lifetime.
This was much higher than the actual risk of one in five people experiencing depression at some point in their lives, said Leonie Young, CEO of beyondblue.
She thought the finding reflected increasing signs and symptoms of both diseases or a greater awareness of them.
The perceived risk of getting some cancers was also over-estimated, according to Professor Ian Olver, CEO of The Cancer Council Australia.
Almost a quarter of the men polled said they had a one in 10 chance or more of getting prostate cancer. Professor Olver said this was too high, as prostate cancer actually represented about 16% of all cancers.
However, the perceived risk of contracting bowel cancer was 15%, closely matching the actual risk of 13 per cent.
The poll was conducted by Research Australia, a national alliance of 190 academic, community and pharmaceutical research organisations.
It saw 832 people older than 18 years asked what they believed, or guessed, their chances were of contracting a range of medical conditions.