Head injuries over the past decade

This section compares hospitalisations data over time and includes the first 16 months of the COVID–19 pandemic. The effect of the COVID–19 pandemic on the data is considered in the technical notes of this report.

Hospitalisation data are divided into two distinct time periods: 2011–12 to 2016–17 and 2017–18 and 2020–21. Comparisons of hospitalisations data between these two time periods is not recommended due to a change in data collection methods between 2016–17 and 2017–18 (see technical notes for more details). Comparisons presented here are for within each of the two time periods.

Figure 20 shows that the number and rate of head injury hospitalisations continues to increase over time. Between 2017–18 and 2020–21, the rate of head injury hospitalisations has increased by an average of 1.4% each year.

Following a decline in 2019–20 (likely due to the impacts of COVID–19), age–standardised rates of head injury hospitalisations in 2020–21 increased by 6.7%. Males had a greater increase (7.1%) than females (6.2%).

Deaths have remained fairly steady over time, with an average annual increase of 0.4% since 2011–12. Males demonstrate a slight decreasing trend in age standardised rates from 2016–17, however this increased back to similar baseline levels in 2020–21.

Over time, the gap between male and female rates of head injury hospitalisations has decreased. In 2011–12, males were 1.7 times more likely to have a head injury hospitalisation than females, while in 2020–21, this has reduced to 1.4 times. This can be explained in part by the larger increase in the average annual increase in hospitalisations between 2017–18 and 2020–21 for females (2%) compared with 0.9% for males.

Figure 20: Age–standardised rate and number of head injury hospitalisations, by sex, 2011–12 to 2020–21

Line chart showing change in the number and rate of head injury hospitalisations over the ten financial years since 2011-12. Decreased numbers can be seen in 2019-2020, followed by a 6.7% increase in 2020-21.