Burden of disease report: Impacts and causes of death

Morgan Liotta

13/06/2019 4:49:48 PM

Almost $120 billion of recurrent health expenditure was attributed to specific groups of diseases in 2015–16.

Field of people
A new report shows that Australians experienced slightly more burden from living with disease (50.4% of total burden) than from premature death (49.6% of total burden).

The Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015 forms the basis for collating data on Australia’s burden of disease, presented in key reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), including disease expenditure and the impact and causes of illness and death.
The reports show that, in 2015, Australians experienced slightly more burden from living with disease (50.4% of total burden) than from premature death (49.6% of total burden). A total of 4.8 million years of healthy life lost (Disability-Adjusted Life Year [DALY]) was attributed to these burdens.
The diseases were categorised under specific groups, with the leading five burdensome disease groups confirmed as:

  • cancer (18%)
  • cardiovascular disease (14%)
  • musculoskeletal conditions (13%)
  • mental and substance use disorders (12%)
  • injury (8.5%)
The most burdensome diseases within these groups were:
  • coronary heart disease (6.9%)
  • back pain and issues (4.1%)
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (3.9%)
  • dementia (3.8%)
  • lung cancer (3.3%)
The AIHW highlights that 38% of disease burden is preventable due to modifiable risk factors – including tobacco use, overweight and obesity, and dietary risks.
Burden of disease varies across geographical areas and population groups, with DALY rates in the Northern Territory 1.4 times the national average, and remote areas 1.4 times than in major cities. Populations in the lowest socioeconomic groups experienced DALYs 1.5 times more than those in the highest socioeconomic groups.
In terms of age groups, DALYs were lower in young people than older age groups, except for those aged 85 and over, where the burden was much lower due to a smaller population. Australians aged 65 and over experienced a higher proportion of fatal burden than non-fatal burden.
The rate of DALYs increased sharply after age 45, peaking in the oldest population due to this group having proportionally greater illness and death compared with younger populations.
Children aged under 15 experienced around half of their total burden from living with illness and half from dying prematurely.
Males experienced more DALYs than females for all age groups up to 85, due to males having more fatal burden than females in each age groups.
In comparison to previous figures, there were substantial improvements in population health between 2003 and 2015. Total burden was down by 11%, fatal burden down by 20%, and total non-fatal burden down by 2%.
Of the estimated $117 billion (73%) of recurrent expenditure for the specific disease groups, those with the highest expenditure for 2015–16 were:
  • musculoskeletal disorders – $12.5 billion
  • cardiovascular diseases – $10.4 billion
  • injuries – $8.9 billion
  • mental and substance use disorders – $8.9 billion.
For females, the highest expenditure condition group was reproductive and maternal health at $6.9 billion; for males, it was cardiovascular diseases at $5.7 billion.
Approximately 60% of the total health expenditure was for hospital services, 20% for primary healthcare, and 12% for pharmaceuticals.

burden of disease chronic disease disease expenditure

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