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Chronic kidney disease death and hospitalisation rates are generally higher outside the major cities in Australia, but especially so in remote areas and especially for women in remote areas, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Chronic kidney disease is a common and serious problem that places a large burden on the Australian healthcare system, particularly the most severe form of the disease-end-stage kidney disease, where patients usually require dialysis or kidney transplantation for survival.

The report, Chronic kidney disease: regional variation in Australia,  provides a detailed picture of how chronic kidney disease varies according to where a person lives. 

AIHW spokesperson Lisa McGlynn said the overall picture of chronic kidney disease deaths and hospitalisations across Major cities, Inner regional, Outer regional, and Remote and very remote areas was complex, but there were some broad general patterns.

'We found much higher rates in remote areas, particularly for women. This was likely due to the high proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in these areas,' Ms McGlynn said.

'Chronic kidney disease is particularly common in Indigenous Australians. For example, in Major cities dialysis hospitalisation rates for Indigenous Australians were around 8 times those of other Australians, and this difference increased substantially in Remote and very remote areas.

'In addition, Indigenous females have much higher rates compared to Indigenous males in remote areas. The reasons for this are complex and likely due to several factors, including increased susceptibility to kidney damage, and higher rates of diabetes and obesity.'

For all males, there were 12-13 deaths per 100,000 people in Major cities and regional areas, but 19 deaths per 100,000 people in Remote and very remote areas. For all females, the death rates climbed from about 10 per 100,000 in the Major cities to 11 and 12 in regional areas to 29 deaths per 100,000 in Remote and very remote areas.

The report also investigates the likelihood of patients moving while receiving kidney replacement therapy (dialysis or kidney transplantation) for end-stage kidney disease. More than half (57%) of patients who lived in Very remote areas at the start of their first treatment changed to less remote areas during their first year of treatment. 

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 17 October 2013

Further information: Lisa McGlynn, tel. (02) 6244 1168, mob. 0408 204 164

Full publication: Chronic kidney disease: regional variation in Australia