The Aussies More Likely To End Up In Hospital With An Injury
Poorer Australians are more likely to be suffer car crashes, drowning, poisoning and burns than those from more privileged backgrounds, a new national report has warned.
The new data from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW), released Wednesday, found people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds were the most likely to be injured and need hospital attention.
The difference in health outcomes between people from advantaged and lower socioeconomic backgrounds is both well established and fairly intuitive -- wealthier people generally have access to better food, housing, healthcare, health-related activities and pursuits.
As a result, people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds have a higher risk of illness, disability, death and tend to live shorter lives than the advantaged.
The new AIHW report explores the relationship between hospitalisation for injury and socioeconomic factors that were seen between 2015 and 2016.
The researchers found that as socioeconomic advantage decreases, the rate of injury increases across a variety of injuries including motor vehicle crashes, drowning, poisoning, falls, burns, assault, and even intentional self-harm.
Overall, they demonstrated a strong link between socioeconomic status and the likelihood of being hospitalised for injury.
Over the course of one year, around 112,000 people from the most disadvantaged areas of Australia were admitted to hospital with injury, in comparison to 89,000 economically advantaged people.
Socioeconomically disadvantaged groups had a rate of 287 hospitalisations due to transport (motor vehicle crashes) per 100,000 people compared to 201 per 100,000 people among the most advantaged.
The rate of hospitalisation from assault injuries was over four times higher (161 people compared to 39 people per 100,000).
This disparity was dominated by assaults committed against women -- with the rate of hospitalisation nearly seven times higher amongst disadvantaged groups compared to the socioeconomically advantaged.
Across all socioeconomic brackets, the ages most likely to be hospitalised for injury were people aged from 15 to 24-years-old and those aged 65 years or older.
Professor James Harrison, the lead author of the study from the AIHW's National Injury Surveillance Unit, told 10 daily that it can be difficult to tease apart the reasons why people from disadvantaged areas tend to experience more injuries.
Harrison said that there are "rather similar differentials via socioeconomic status for things like heart attacks and cancers and so on and those sort of things can be highly attributable to things like smoking rates".
He said that beside occupational hazards associated with jobs in lower socioeconomic brackets, it is currently only possible to speculate on the factors that are causing these differences in injuries.
"In the transport [crash] cases, poorer people tend to have older and less safe cars...there may be things that coincide with being in a lower socioeconomic status bracket that mean you're more likely to crash and if you are in a crash you're more likely to be injured," he said.
Thermal injuries (burns) were also far more likely to be seen among people in the Most Disadvantaged bracket and Harrison believes this could be due to poor maintenance of facilities in certain areas.
Harrison stresses that these injury statistics are complex and should not be interpreted as inferring that the most economically disadvantaged in society are simply more accident-prone.
However, there is one difference that has been consistently seen and commented upon in injury statistics: men get hurt more than women.
This was seen in the AIHW report, with men accounting for significantly more injuries than women overall socioeconomic brackets. The risk of dying by unintentional injury is higher for men than women across the globe and this has been seen in statistics for decades.
"It's certainly what has been found year in year out," Harrison said.
"It's usually explained in terms of two major factors, one being occupational factors and gender segregation in exposure to risk...and the other is propensity to risk-taking behaviour -- the testosterone effect or however you want to consider it."
However, Harrison notes that this gender disparity has evened out over a long time as women became increasingly involved in previously male-dominated activities such as driving.
Harrison's team have now also submitted a nation-wide injuries and mortality report to the AIHW, which will be published in the coming months.