Objective: To calculate the expected increase in the number of fractures in adults attributable to the predicted increase in the number of elderly Australians.
Data sources: All fractures in adult residents (> or = 35 years) of the Barwon Statistical Division (total population, 218,000) were identified from radiological reports from February 1994 to February 1996. The Australian Bureau of Statistics supplied predictions of Australia's population (1996 to 2051).
Main outcome measure: The projected annual number of fractures in Australian adults up to 2051 (based on stable rates of fracture in each age group).
Results: The number of fractures per year is projected to increase 25% from 1996 to 2006 (from 83,000 fractures to 104,000). Hip fractures are projected to increase 36% (from 15,000 to 21,000) because of a substantial rise in the number of elderly aged 85 years and over. Hip fractures are expected to double by 2026 and increase fourfold by 2051.
Conclusions: In contrast to Europe and North America, where numbers of hip fractures are expected to double by 2026 and then stabilise, in Australia hip fractures will continue to place a growing demand on healthcare resources for many decades. These projections can be used for setting goals and evaluating the costs and benefits of interventions in Australia.