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Burden of Disease

Burden of disease is an internationally recognised summary measure of population health used to assess and compare the relative impact of different diseases and injuries on populations. It quantifies health loss due to disease and injury that remains after treatment, rehabilitation or prevention efforts of the health system and society generally. It shows the gap between the current health situation and an ideal where everyone lives into old age, free of disease and disability.

Burden of disease and injury estimates are a useful descriptive epidemiological tool for describing the health of populations but they hold most value for informing strategic planning, decision-making and resource prioritisation.

The strength of burden of disease studies, when reported on a regular basis, is to benchmark and assess how well the health system is responding to the needs of individual population groups. Using the non-Indigenous population burden of disease estimates as the theoretical ideal for Indigenous Queenslanders, ongoing burden of disease estimates can be utilised to assess changes in the Indigenous burden of disease.

The burden of disease and injury in Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2017 (reference year 2011)

This report series is the second Queensland study of the burden of disease and injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Due to availability of life table data, which underpins the burden of disease estimates, this report describes the burden of disease and injury in Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2011.

The Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander burden of disease and injury series includes the following reports:

The report provides information about which conditions, age groups, and geographic areas contribute the most to the disease and injury burden experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders. It demonstrates the effect of risk factors on health, and shows where the gaps exist between the burden in Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people, thereby highlighting areas that have the largest potential for health gain.

Key findings from the report show that in 2011:

  • In 2011, the largest broad cause contributors to the Indigenous disease and injury burden were mental disorders, chronic disease and unintentional injuries. The top six contributors were responsible for more than two-thirds of the total disease and injury burden among Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These were:
    • Mental disorders (20 per cent)
    • Cardiovascular disease (14 per cent)
    • Diabetes (11 per cent)
    • Cancers (9 per cent)
    • Chronic respiratory disease (9 per cent)
    • Unintentional injuries (5 per cent)
  • In 2011, overweight and obesity, tobacco smoking, and insufficient physical activity were the largest single contributors to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander burden. Some chronic diseases were strongly influenced by risk factors. Almost 75 per cent of diabetes burden, 68 per cent of cardiovascular disease burden and 50 per cent of cancer burden could be avoided through the elimination of selected behavioural and environmental risk factors.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders residing in remote areas of Queensland experienced higher rates of disease burden than their metropolitan counterparts, in particular from communicable disease, maternal and neonatal conditions and injuries.
  • Between 2007 and 2011, the burden of disease and injury experienced by Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people increased by nine per cent, mainly as a result population increase. After accounting for differences in age structures, there was a decline in the rate of disease and injury burden in Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2011, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders could expect to live on average to 62 years of age in good health. This was almost 12 years less than the healthy life expectancy of a non-Indigenous Queenslander.
  • Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experienced more than two times the burden of non-Indigenous Queenslanders. Chronic disease (such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes), mental disorders and intentional injuries (predominately suicide and self-inflicted injuries) were significant contributors to the gap in disease and injury burden. These represent priority areas for improving the gap in burden of disease between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Queenslanders.

Previous reports:

The first comprehensive report detailing the burden of disease and injury for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland is now published.

Burden of disease and injury for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2014 (PDF 2126 kB)

Contact:

For further information please contact the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Branch, Phone 3708 5561.

Last updated: 10 July 2017