This report examined the associations between socioeconomic status (SES) and hospitalised injury in Australia. It looks at the association between SES and hospitalised injury cases in the most recent data year available (2015–16) and at this association, over time, by age, sex and Indigenous status and by a selection of external causes of injury. The external causes of injury included were Transport crash, Accidental drowning and submersion, Accidental poisoning, falls, injury due to thermal causes, Intentional self-harm and injuries due to Assault.
Overall, the results demonstrated a strong association between SES and hospitalised injury: for those living in the most disadvantaged areas, rates of hospitalised injury were highest, and for those living in the most advantaged areas, rates of injury hospitalisation were lowest. Generally, rates of injury decreased in line with increasing advantage. There were, however, exceptions to this in cases of Accidental drowning and submersion and fall-related injuries.
In cases of Accidental drowning and submersion, the strength of the association between SES and injury hospitalisations was weaker for more advantaged areas. For cases of hospitalised fall-related injury, there was no association between rates of injury and increasing SES advantage.
Variations in the association between SES and injury hospitalisations occurred by age and by sex for cases of all-cause injury, Transport crash, Accidental drowning and submersion and fall-related injury.
With respect to sex, for cases of fall-related injury, the association between injury and SES was much weaker for females, and to some extent for males. With respect to age, there was variation by SES in the rates of injury for all-cause injury, Transport crash, Accidental drowning and submersion and fall-related injury. For example, the association between injury and SES was weakest in the youngest 2 age groups in these 4 injury categories. Those aged 65 and over demonstrated an inverse relationship between rates of all-cause and fall-related injury and SES. (That is, rates of all-cause and fall-related injury increased with increasing SES advantage). In addition, there was no clear association between Transport crash injury rates and SES.
In relation to Indigenous Australians, for all-cause hospitalised injury and all but 1 external cause, at least 40% to 50% of Indigenous people were in the most disadvantaged SES group. The exception to this was for incidences of Accidental drowning and submersion, where the largest proportion of Indigenous cases were found in the second-most disadvantaged group (48%). Note that Indigenous people are not distributed evenly across the SES groups examined, which will affect the patterns seen.
Over the period, the rate of hospitalised injury increased for both the highest (most disadvantaged) and lowest (most advantaged) SES groups. A consistent downward trend was identified for 2 external causes: decreases in the annual rate of injury due to thermal causes and Assault were found. However, there was no consistency in the trends over time among the other external cause categories examined.
Changes in rates over time varied considerably by SES group and by age. The most consistent finding was an increase in average annual rates of injury for the oldest age group (those aged 65 or over) in every external cause category examined, for both the highest and the lowest SES groups.