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4384.0 - National Health Survey: Injuries, Australia, 1995  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/10/1998   
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INTRODUCTION

Injuries are a significant source of preventable illness, disability and mortality in Australia. They disproportionately affect young people and place a heavy demand on health services, accounting for a higher percentage of hospitalisations than either cancer or cardiovascular disease. In recognition of this, injury prevention and control has been identified as one of the five National Health Priority Areas.

PREVALENCE

In 1995, 2.8 million Australians (16% of the population) had a current injury or injury-related condition. This represented 18% of all people with a medical condition. Current injuries affected 5.5% of the population, and 10.5% of the population had an injury-related condition.

Sex

Overall, there were 1.6 times as many males with a current injury or injury-related condition as females in 1995. Both males and females were more likely to have injury-related conditions than current injuries (males 13.6% compared with 6.1%; females 7.5% compared with 4.8%).


Age

In 1995, the prevalence of persons with a current injury or injury-related condition increased with age, from 7.5% for persons aged less than 15 years to 21% for persons aged 55-64. Thereafter, the proportion decreased slightly with 16% of persons 75 years and over having a current injury or injury-related condition.

Current injuries were more common among younger people, with 15-24 year olds having the highest prevalence (8.6%), followed by 25-34 year olds with 6.4%. Older persons had considerably lower rates of current injury, with the lowest being 3.0% among 65-74 year olds.

In contrast, injury-related conditions were generally more prevalent in the middle and older population groups where the population has had more time to accumulate residual conditions from events in the past. Persons aged 55-64 had the highest prevalence of injury-related conditions, with 17% of this group affected. However, only 1.6% of persons aged less than 15 years had an injury-related condition.

Types of current injury

Dislocations, sprains and strains affected 296,100 people (1.6% of the population), making this the leading type of current injury in 1995. Dislocations, sprains and strains were most prevalent in younger age groups and a little over half of those affected by dislocations, sprains and strains were aged between 15 and 34 years.

Bruising and crushing affected 126,700 people (0.7% of the population), with the highest prevalence for males aged 15-24 years (1.4%).

Open wounds affected 124,800 people (0.7% of the population) but with different patterns between males and females. Males aged under 15 had the highest prevalence of open wound injuries (1.2%) with the rate in general declining steadily with increasing age. In females, the highest rates were found among those aged 15-24 and 75 years and over (0.9% and 0.8% respectively).

Burns and scalds (which include sunburn) affected females at a similar overall rate to that of males (around 0.5% each). However, 1.2% of females aged 15-24 had burns and scalds, more than twice the level for females in any other age group.



Types of injury-related conditions

Injury-related deafness affected 274,400 people (1.5% of the population), making it the leading injury-related condition in Australia in 1995. Injury-related deafness was predominantly a male condition, with 12 times as many males as females reporting the condition. Injury-related deafness increased markedly with age among males, peaking at 8.0% among those aged 65-74.

Injury-related back trouble affected 258,500 people (1.4% of the population), with males showing 1.5 times as many injury-related back troubles as females.

In males, back trouble increased with age until 45-54 years where the condition affected 3.3% of males, then decreased steadily in successive age groups. In females, the highest prevalence of back trouble was in the 25-34 years age group (1.8%).

Injury-related disorders of the intervertebral disc affected 181,600 persons, with the prevalence among males being twice that among females. For both, disorders of the intervertebral disc increased with age until 45-54 years and then decreased steadily in successive age groups.

CAUSES OF INJURY

In the NHS, respondents who had a current injury or injury-related condition were asked to identify the type and cause of injury for the most recent accident, incident or exposure, as well as the time since the event occurred. Data on cause of injury in this section were restricted to injuries sustained in the month prior to interview to allow a comparison to be made with other variables.

Falls

In 1995, falls were the most frequent cause of most recent injury, affecting 188,700 people with a current injury or injury-related condition (1.0% of the population). Similar numbers of males and females were injured in falls (94,000 and 95,000 respectively). Falls accounted for 32% of all people having a recent injury, being the most frequent cause of injury among females (39%) and the second most common cause among males (27%). Persons aged less than 15 years and those 65 years and over had the highest prevalence of injury from falls.

The most common types of injuries resulting from these falls were dislocations, sprains and strains (35% of people who had a fall), open wounds (26%) and bruising and crushing (22%). Fractures were sustained by 15% of people with injuries due to a fall, and the majority of falls occurred among those aged under 15 years and those aged 65 years and over. Of persons aged 55 or over, almost one-third (31%) of those who had a fall in the last month sustained a fracture as a result.

Collisions

Collisions were the second most frequently occurring cause of most recent injury. They affected 171,200 people with a current injury or injury-related condition in 1995. Collisions accounted for 29% of all people with a recent injury in the month prior to interview. They were the most frequent cause of injury among males (36%), with those aged 25-34 having the highest rate of injury due to this cause (47%). Almost 40% of people who had collisions suffered open wounds, while 25% sustained bruising or crushing.

Vehicle accidents

In 1995, 28,600 people had a current injury due to a vehicle accident as their most recent injury. This represented 4.8% of all people with a recent injury. Males aged 15-24 were those most likely to have sustained an injury as a result of a vehicle accident (7.9%). The most common types of injuries from vehicle accidents were dislocations, sprains and strains (35% of people injured in a vehicle accident), followed by open wounds (27%), and bruising and crushing (18%).



Attacks by another person

Around 24,300 people stated that their most recent current injury was the result of an attack by another person. The number of injuries among males due to such attacks was four times that of females (6.0% compared with 1.4%), with males aged 25-34 years having the highest prevalence of attacks (2.5%). Bruising and crushing were reported by 33% of people attacked by another person and open wounds were reported by 24%.

WORK-RELATED CONDITIONS

Those with a current injury or injury-related condition were asked to identify any which were work-related. Additional data on type and cause of injury were collected for the most recent accident, incident or exposure, as well as the time since the event occurred.

In 1995, over a third of persons (37%) with a current injury or injury-related condition had a work-related injury or condition (1.1 million people, comprising 833,000 males and 228,000 females). A higher proportion of these people (87%) had injury-related conditions (rather than current injuries) compared with people with a non-work-related injury or condition (57%).

Complete or partial deafness was the most frequent type of work-related condition, affecting 232,200 persons (22% of all persons with work-related injuries or conditions). Work-related deafness was more frequent among males than females. Of males with work-related injuries or conditions, 27% had partial or complete deafness compared with 5% of females. Work related deafness represented 85% of all people with injury-related deafness. Disorders of the intervertebral disc and back trouble were also common, together affecting 247,700 people (23% of all persons with work-related injuries or conditions).

Cause of work-related injury

The following data on cause refer only to the most recent work-related injury which could have occurred at any time in the past.

In 1995, exposures to a harmful factor were the leading cause of most recent work-related injuries (38% of people with such an injury) and frequently resulted in conditions such as deafness, back trouble and arthritis.

Falls were the second leading cause of most recent work-related injuries (18% of persons with such an injury) with almost half (47%) of both males and females sustaining dislocations, sprains and strains. However, fractures as a result of a work-related fall were more common among males (34%) than females (20%). This may indicate that males suffer more serious work-related injuries due to falls than females.

Collisions were the cause of the most recent work-related injury for 16% of persons. Overall, bruising and crushing were the most common result (36%) for both males and females, followed by dislocations for women (36%) and open wounds for males (31%). Again, a higher proportion of males had fractures as a result of work-related collisions than females.

SPORTS AND RECREATION INJURIES

Those with a current injury or injury-related condition were asked whether their most recent accident, incident or exposure happened while participating in a sport, game or other recreational activity. Hence only those current injuries or injury-related conditions which are a result of the most recent injury can be identified as being sports or recreation-related. To allow a more accurate profile of current injuries, data in the following section have been restricted to those injuries which had occurred in the month prior to interview.

In 1995, 228,800 people (1.3% of the population) with a current injury or injury-related condition had been injured most recently due to a sport or recreation-related activity in the month prior to interview. This represented 38% of all people who had their most recent injury occurring in the previous month. The prevalence rate of sports injuries was about 1.8 times higher among males than females (1.6% compared with 0.9%), with males aged less than 15 years being more likely than any other age group to have an injury from participating in sports or recreation.

Type of current injury

Dislocations, sprains and strains were the most common sports and recreation-related injury, affecting 36% of people with such an injury. This was followed by bruising and crushing (26%) and open wounds (25%).

In contrast, open wounds were the most common injury not related to sports or recreation (34%), followed by bruising and crushing (22%), and dislocations, sprains and strains (18%).

Cause of injury

Falls were the cause of injury for 41% of people with sports and recreation-related injury, making it the leading cause of such injury in 1995. Dislocations, strains and sprains were the most common injury resulting from these falls (43%), followed by bruising and crushing (27%) and open wounds (25%).

Collisions were the second most frequent cause of injury (29%), with the most common results being dislocations, strains and sprains (reported by 35% of people having a collision) and bruising and crushing (34%).

DEATHS DUE TO ACCIDENTS, POISONINGS AND VIOLENCE

This section uses statistics collected from State and Territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages as published in the annual publication Causes of Death, Australia, 1996 (Cat. no. 3303.0). Data presented in this section from the Causes of Death collection are not directly comparable with information presented from the NHS due to differences in the classification of injuries. Injuries, such as those reported in the NHS, can result in death. In death registration statistics these are classified as deaths from accidents, poisoning's and violence (ICD E800-E999).

In 1996, accidents, poisoning's and violence accounted for 7,554 deaths, or 5.9% of total deaths. The leading cause of these deaths was suicides (32%). Motor vehicle traffic accidents were responsible for a further 26% of these deaths, with males aged 15-24 accounting for more than a fifth of this group. Falls were responsible for 15% of deaths due to accidents, poisoning's and violence in 1996, with 72% of these occurring in people 75 years and older.

OTHER TABLES INCLUDED IN THIS PUBLICATION

1 Persons with a current injury or injury-related condition, by type - persons
2 Persons with a current injury or injury-related condition, by type - males
3 Persons with a current injury or injury-related condition, by type - females
4 Persons with a recent injury, cause - by age and sex
5 Persons with falls and collisions, types of resultant injury - by age
6 Persons with a current injury or injury-related condition - whether work-related .
7 Persons with a work-related injury, cause - by age and sex
8 Persons with work-related falls, collisions and exposures - by type
9 Employed persons with a current work-related injury, type - by sex
10 Employed persons with a work-related injury, type - by occupation
11 Employed persons with a work-related injury, cause - by occupation
12 Persons with a recent injury, type - by whether sports and recreation-related
13 Persons with a recent injury, cause - by whether sports and recreation-related
14 Deaths due to accidents, poisoning's and violence - 1996


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