Avoidable hospitalisation in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory

Med J Aust. 2009 May 18;190(10):532-6. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02551.x.


Objectives: To analyse rates of avoidable hospitalisations in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents of the Northern Territory, 1998-99 to 2005-06, and to consider the implications for primary care interventions.

Design and setting: Retrospective descriptive analysis of inpatient discharge data from NT public hospitals.

Main outcome measures: Avoidable hospitalisations by age, sex, Aboriginality and condition, with annual time trends.

Results: Between 1998-99 and 2005-06, Aboriginal people in the NT had an avoidable hospitalisation rate of 11 090 per 100 000 population, nearly four times higher than the Australian rate of 2848 per 100 000. The rate for non-Aboriginal NT residents was 2779 per 100 000. During this period, the average annual increase in avoidable hospitalisations was 11.6% (95% CI, 11.0%-12.1%) in the NT Aboriginal population and 3.9% (95% CI, 3.3%-4.5%) in the non-Aboriginal population. The greatest increase occurred in those aged > or = 45 years, and was primarily attributable to diabetes complications.

Conclusions: The significantly higher rates of avoidable hospitalisations in NT Aboriginal people reflect the emerging epidemic of chronic disease in this population, highlight barriers to Aboriginal people accessing effective primary care, and emphasise the extent of potential health gains with appropriate interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • Northern Territory / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • White People*
  • Young Adult