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Causes of death data provide insights into diseases and other factors contributing to reduced life expectancy. Underlying causes of death data records the key disease or injury leading directly to death. In 2006, almost 80% of all underlying causes of death in NSW were associated with Australia's seven National Health Priority Areas (cardiovascular diseases, cancer, injury, asthma, mental health, diabetes mellitus and arthritis). The death rate for all persons in NSW in 2006 was one of the lowest on record, reflecting a steady decline since 2000, from 6.9 to 6.1 deaths per 1,000 persons. This overall decrease in death rates is mainly due to reductions in deaths from heart and cerebrovascular disease, though deaths from malignant cancer increased from 163 to 177 per 100,000 persons.
INDIGENOUS AND NON-INDIGENOUS HEALTH STATUS
Health gains in the wider community have not always been shared with Indigenous Australians, who in general have poorer health outcomes, including higher death and hospitalisation rates, and a shorter life expectancy. In 2004-05, the majority of non-Indigenous people in NSW aged 15 years and over (56%), consider themselves to be in very good or excellent health, compared with 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous people were 1.8 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to have reported fair or poor health.
Although most people reported they were in good health, in 2004-05, almost three-quarters (74%) of the non-Indigenous NSW population reported one or more long term medical condition. After adjusting for age differences, almost four in five Indigenous persons (79%) reported long term health conditions. The most commonly reported long term health conditions among Indigenous Australians were eye or sight problems (50%), heart or circulatory diseases (22%), arthritis (22%), back disorders (19%), and asthma (18%). The rate of kidney disease was 6 times higher in the Indigenous population compared with the non-Indigenous population, and diabetes or high sugar levels was almost 3 times higher in the Indigenous population.
There are a range of issues which can influence health outcomes, including socioeconomic status, environmental factors, genetics and specific lifestyle behaviours, such as smoking, exercise and dietary habits. For the total NSW population, comparison between 2001 and 2005, show that more adults are drinking alcohol at risky or high risk levels (up from 11% to 13%), and more people are overweight or obese (up from 44% to 47%). In 2005, 23% of the total NSW adult population were current daily smokers.
In 2005, after adjusting for age differences, there were higher levels of short-term risky or high risk alcohol consumption among Indigenous adults (17% compared to 7% non-Indigenous), and a higher proportion of Indigenous adults were overweight/obese (64% compared to 51% non-Indigenous). In the same period, Indigenous adults were more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous adults to be current daily smokers (48% and 21% respectively).
ABS Causes of Death Collection (cat. no. 3303.0)
ABS National Health Survey (cat. no. 4364.0)
ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (cat. no. 4715.0)
ABS National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing of Adults (cat. no. 4326.0)
ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, 2003 (cat. no. 4430.0)
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, Home and Community Care Program Minimum Data Set (HACC MDS), HACC MDS Annual Bulletins 2002-03 to 2004-05
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Perinatal Statistics Unit 2004, Australia's mothers and babies (AIHW cat. no. PER 25) to AIHW National Perinatal Statistics Unit 2007, Australia's Mothers and Babies (AIHW cat. No. PER 40)
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Alcohol and Other Drugs Treatment Services in NSW 2005-06
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Mental Health Services in Australia 2001-02 (AIHW cat. no. HSE 31) to AIHW 2007, Mental Health Services in Australia 2004-05 (AIHW cat. no. HSE 47)
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2001, Australian Hospital Statistics 1999-2000 (AIHW cat. no. HSE 14) to AIHW 2007, Australian Hospital Statistics 2005-06 (AIHW cat. no. HSE 50)
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2007, Health Expenditure Australia 2005-06 (AIHW cat. no. HWE 37)
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2007
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Residential Aged Care in Australia 2000-01 (AIHW cat. no. AGE 22) to Residential Aged Care in Australia 2005-06 (AIHW cat. no. AGE 54)
Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0)
NSW Department of Health, NSW Health Annual Reports 2006-07
NSW Department of Health, NSW Inpatient Statistics Collection and ABS population estimates (HOIST), Centre for Epidemiology and Research
Private Health Insurance Administration Council <www.phiac.gov.au/statistics/membershipcoverage>
Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision (SCRGSP) 2008, Report on Government Services 2008 Productivity Commission, Canberra
Tracy E, Baker D, Chen W, Starvou E, Bishop J, Cancer in NSW: Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence, 2005, Sydney: Cancer Institute NSW, November 2007 http://www.statistics.cancerinstitute.org.au
WorkCover Authority of NSW, Worker's Compensation Statistical Bulletins 2000-01 to 2005-06
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