• Print

released: 25 May 2007 author: AIHW, Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L & Lopez A media release

'The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003' provides a comprehensive assessment of the health status of Australians. The report measures mortality, disability, impairment, illness and injury arising from 176 diseases, injuries and risk factors using a common metric, the disability-adjusted life year or DALY, and methods developed by the Global Burden of Disease Study. Burden of disease analysis gives a unique perspective on health. Fatal and non-fatal outcomes are integrated, but can be examined separately as well. This report provides detailed estimates of the burden of mortality and disability for each disease and injury category by sex and age. It also assesses the burden attributable to each of 14 major risk factors, and inequalities in the disease burden associated with socioeconomic disadvantage.

ISBN 978 1 74024 648 4; Cat. no. PHE 82; Internet only

Executive summary


This report is the first complete assessment of the health of Australians to be released in the new millennium.

The findings in this report identify the extent and distribution of health problems in Australia, and quantify the contribution of key health risk factors to these problems.

Levels of death and disability from a comprehensive set of diseases, injuries and risks to health are combined to measure the total health ‘burden’.

This report is the second of this type in Australia, the first having been released in 1999. It expands the scope of that previous report and also presents for the first time:

  • the differentials of health burden across areas and population groups in Australia
  • the joint contribution of key health risks—including combined lifestyle, physiological, social and environmental factors—on health
  • an analysis of past trends of health burden and the likely health of Australians in 20 years from now should those trends continue.

The findings of this report describe the health loss due to disease and injury that is not ameliorated by current treatment, rehabilitative and preventive efforts of the health system and society generally. Thus they represent the ‘unmet’ challenges of the health system and are best interpreted as opportunities for health gain.

By providing a comprehensive database of all relevant epidemiological and burden parameters through time, the report will benefit health policy development and research in relation to preventive and curative health interventions, health care expenditure projections, and further assessments of health burden in the period before the next major update.

The study upon which the report is based was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. A report specifically examining the burden of disease and injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be published separately.

Recommended citation

AIHW, Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L & Lopez A 2007. The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003. Cat. no. PHE 82. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 22 July 2017 <http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442467990>.

Request an alternative format

Please contact us if you need information from the website presented in an alternative format for accessibility reasons.