Every year in Australia, millions of years of healthy life are lost because of injury, illness or premature deaths in the population. This loss of healthy life is called the ‘burden of disease’ in epidemiological literature.

Burden of disease analysis combines living with poor health (the non-fatal burden of disease) with dying prematurely (fatal burden). Fatal and non-fatal burden combined is referred to as total burden. Burden of disease is recognised as the best method to measure the impact of different diseases or injuries in a population.

This report provides estimates of the total, non-fatal and fatal burden for the Australian population in 2015, using the disability-adjusted life years (DALY) measure. One disability-adjusted life year (or 1 DALY) represents 1 year of healthy life lost, either through premature death (‘years of life lost’ or YLL) or from living with an illness or injury (‘years lived with disability’ or YLD).

DALY estimates are presented for more than 200 diseases, as well as estimates of the burden attributable to more than 30 risk factors, such as tobacco use and physical inactivity. Results are also included for 2003 and 2011 for comparison.

In 2015, Australians lost 4.8 million years of healthy life (DALY) due to:

Living with illness (non-fatal) 50.4%25 of total burden. Dying prematurely (fatal) 49.6%25 of total burden.