Acute injury events are the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in Australia. Each year about 7% of hospital separations are due to acute injury. For many of those who are treated in hospital and discharged, there may be long-term health consequences of the trauma associated with their injury and treatment. This briefing focuses on the chronic health effects following injury and the effect injury has on the physical and psychological well-being and social functioning of individuals who were injured. Prevention and control of chronic non-communicable diseases in Australia is a high priority because of the health burden these conditions place on individuals, communities and the health sector.

In 2000–01, Commonwealth and State governments, private health insurance agencies and individuals and households spent an estimated $45 billion (78% of total recurrent health expenditure) on disease, excluding injuries (AIHW 2004). Six disease groups accounted for the greatest health expenditure. These groups are: cardiovascular diseases, nervous system disorders, musculoskeletal diseases, respiratory diseases, oral health and mental disorders and together these disease groups used about $25 billion or over half (51%) of the total allocated health expenditure in 2000–01.