There are many and varied causes of injury including falls, burns, motor vehicle accidents, violence, self-harm, and poisoning. The impact of injury varies, ranging from mild short-term musculoskeletal discomfort to lifetime disability and death. Based on estimates from the 2015 Australian Burden of Disease Study, injury is a major contributor to mortality and morbidity in Australia, contributing 8.5 per cent of the total burden of disease in 2015 (AIHW 2019a). In addition, there is variability in the types and amounts of health services accessed by individuals to treat injury, from primary care services delivered in the community, to in-hospital care.

The AIHW’s disease expenditure analysis describes the activity and characteristics of spending for different demographic groups in the population and different disease groups. The Disease expenditure in Australia 2015–16 study found that an estimated $117 billion was able to be attributed to over 200 specific diseases and conditions, representing almost three-quarters of total health expenditure (73%) for that year.

The estimated total spending on injuries 2015–16 was $8.9 billion, or 7.6 per cent of total disease expenditure, equating to about $373 per person. Injury was the third most costly condition group, behind musculoskeletal disorders (10.7%)and cardiovascular diseases (8.9%) (AIHW 2019b).

Injuries can be classified by either the external cause of injury (such as road traffic accidents or fire, burns and scalds), or the nature of injury (such as fractures or spinal cord injury). In this report both the cause of the injury and the nature of the injury have been included in the analysis. In terms of cause of injury, Falls had the highest spending accounting for 41 per cent ($3.7 billion) in 2015–16. In terms of the nature of injury, Soft tissue injuries were the most expensive accounting for 13 per cent ($1.2 billion) of total injury-related spending. 

Previously published data relating to the impact and expenditure associated with injuries indicate that the disease burden and spending are not equally distributed in the population, with some groups at higher risk of experiencing injury (AIHW 2019a AIHW 2019b). This report presents a more detailed analysis on the estimated injury expenditure based on the AIHW’s 2015–16 Disease Expenditure Database  to examine these differential aspects of injury across different segments of the population.