Burden of disease analysis measures the impact of disease and injury in a population by estimating the amount of ‘disability-adjusted life years’ (DALY) experienced by that population. This measure counts the combined years of healthy life lost due to living with and dying prematurely from disease and injury. Burden of disease in Australia is measured for 219 diseases and injuries (grouped into 17 disease groups). Rather than just counting deaths and disease prevalence, it takes into account the age at death and severity of disease to estimate the total health loss. The contribution of various modifiable risk factors to disease burden is also estimated.

Information on the burden of disease and injuries as well as the contribution of various risk factors to burden is important for monitoring population health and for providing an evidence base to inform health policy and service planning.

Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018

The ABDS 2018 is based on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s previous burden of disease studies and provides an update of the Australian-specific burden of disease estimates for both the Australian and Indigenous Australian populations. This new study provides estimates of burden in Indigenous Australians for the reference year 2018, and recalculations of the 2011 and 2003 estimates using new data sources and methods, where applicable. This report is a summary of the ABDS 2018 findings for Indigenous Australians. More detailed information can be found in the detailed report, the methods report and the interactive data visualisations, all available on the AIHW website at Burden of disease.

Several key improvements were adopted for the ABDS 2018 compared with the ABDS 2011 (the last time estimates for the Indigenous Australian population were produced). Among these improvements were: a more comprehensive list of diseases and risk factors of relevance in Australia, new conceptual models for some diseases, and the estimation of a new measure – the health adjusted life expectancy (HALE). See Chapter 1 and Appendix A of Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2018 for more information on improvements between ABDS 2011 and ABDS 2018.