Drivers of change in disease burden

This chapter presents new analyses undertaken using data from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015 to explore the different drivers of change over time in disease burden.

Disease burden is measured in terms of Disability Adjusted Life Years (or DALY). DALY are a measure (in years) of healthy life lost, either through premature death, defined as dying before the ideal life span (referred to as ‘fatal burden’ or ‘years of life lost’ (YLL)), or through living with ill health due to illness or injury (referred to as ‘non-fatal burden’ or ‘years lived with disability’ (YLD)).

Between 2003 and 2015, there was a 14% increase in the total number of DALY in Australia, from 4.2 million to 4.8 million DALY. Note this is different to changes in the age-standardised rate of DALY per 1,000 population (which was 208 DALY per 1,000 in 2003 and 184 DALY per 1,000 in 2015).

The main factors contributing to the increase in the total number of DALY were population growth (the Australian population increased by 21% between 2003 and 2015), population ageing, and changes in the amount of disease and injury in the population. These 3 factors and the method used to estimate the contribution of each to changes in disease burden are explained further in the box below.

Key results from these analyses can be found in the data visualisations below and in Table S1.