Administrative data on hospital separations and results from the 2002 NATSISS provide a range of insights into the health and wellbeing of Torres Strait Islander people and Indigenous people more generally.
Self-assessed health and disability
In 2002, using the three broad self-assessed health status categories, Torres Strait Islander people rated their health similarly to Indigenous people overall. Over one-third (35%) of Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over had a disability or long-term health condition (table 12.19). For information on criteria used to ascertain disability status in the 2002 NATSISS, see Chapter 5 of this report.
In 2002, just under one-half (44%) of Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over were regular smokers i.e. they smoked at least one cigarette a day. In non-remote areas, 25% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having used an illicit substance in the last 12 months, with a further 19% reporting use of an illicit substance prior to that (table 12.20).
The 2002 NATSISS collected two measures of alcohol consumption using National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines, one on long-term use (usual consumption patterns) and the other on recent, most heavy use (binge drinking). For more information on the NHMRC guidelines and their use in the 2002 NATSISS, refer to Chapter 8 of this report.
In 2002, around one in five Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over (22%) reported risky or high risk alcohol consumption over the long term (i.e. during the preceding 12 months). The proportion of Torres Strait Islander people who reported risky or high risk alcohol consumption over the short term (previous two weeks) was 39% (table 12.20). While a higher proportion of Torres Strait Islander people than Indigenous people overall reported risky or high risk alcohol consumption in the 2002 NATSISS, these differences are not statistically significant.
In 2002, one-quarter (25%) of Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over reported that they or a relative of theirs had been removed from their natural family, compared with 38% of Indigenous people overall. A similar proportion of Torres Strait Islander people (26%) reported that they had been a victim of physical or threatened violence in the 12 months prior to interview (table 12.20).
In 2003-04 there were 15,401 hospitalisations involving Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 7% of all Indigenous hospitalisations. Women comprised around 56% of both Torres Strait Islander and Indigenous patients overall.
Among Torres Strait Islander patients, there were considerable differences in the distribution of males and females according to age. The number of hospitalisations in 2003-04 was high for women of child-bearing age (i.e. aged 15-34 years) and then peaked again for older women (aged 55 years or over). Hospitalisation rates were relatively constant for Torres Strait Islander men under 35 years of age (comprising one-third (33%) of all male hospitalisations) before rising quite rapidly for men aged 35 years or over (graph 12.21).
12.21 Hospitalisations by age and sex - 2003-04, Torres Strait Islander people
Table 12.22 shows hospitalisations for Torres Strait Islander and Indigenous patients, by principal diagnosis in ICD-10-AM chapter groupings for 2003-04. Care involving dialysis (for kidney disease) was the most commonly recorded principal diagnosis, accounting for 31% of all Torres Strait Islander hospitalisations. Men were more likely than women to be receiving dialysis at a young age. Over one-half of hospitalisations involving Torres Strait Islander men aged 35 years or over (51%) and women aged 55 years or over (59%) were for care involving dialysis (AIHW 2005b).
12.22 Hospitalisations of Torres Strait Islander persons and all Indigenous persons, by principal diagnosis - 2003-04
Torres Strait Islander(a)
|Certain infectious and parasitic diseases (A00-B99) |
|Neoplasms (C00-D48) |
|Diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs and certain disorders involving the immune mechanism (D50-D89) |
|Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases (E00-E90) |
|Mental and behavioural disorders (F00-F99) |
|Diseases of the nervous system (G00-G99) |
|Diseases of the eye and adnexa (H00-H59) |
|Diseases of the ear and mastoid process (H60-H95) |
|Diseases of the circulatory system (I00-I99) |
|Diseases of the respiratory system (J00-J99) |
|Diseases of the digestive system (K00-K93) |
|Diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue (L00-L99) |
|Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (M00-M99) |
|Diseases of the genitourinary system (N00-N99) |
|Pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium (O00-O99) |
|Certain conditions originating in the perinatal period (P00-P96) |
|Congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities (Q00-Q99) |
|Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, n.e.c. (R00-R99) |
|Injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes (S00-T98) |
|Factors influencing health status and contact with health services (Z00-Z99) |
|Total excluding care involving dialysis |
|Care involving dialysis (Z49) |
|(a) Includes patients who were of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin. |
|(b) Includes a small number of patients for whom no principal diagnosis was recorded. |
|AIHW, National Hospital Morbidity Database |