Intentional self-harm and assault hospitalisations and treatment cost of children in Australia over a 10-year period

Rebecca J. Mitchell*, Rebecca Seah, Hsuen P. Ting, Kate Curtis, Kim Foster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: To examine the magnitude, 10-year temporal trends and treatment cost of intentional injury hospitalisations of children aged ≤16 years in Australia. Method: A retrospective examination of linked hospitalisation and mortality data for children aged ≤16 years during 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2012 with self-harm or assault injuries. Negative binomial regression examined temporal trends. Results: There were 18,223 self-harm and 13,877 assault hospitalisations, with a treatment cost of $64 million and $60.6 million, respectively. The self-harm hospitalisation rate was 59.8 per 100,000 population (95%CI 58.96-60.71) with no annual decrease. The assault hospitalisation rate was 29.9 per 100,000 population (95%CI 29.39-30.39) with a 4.2% annual decrease (95%CI -6.14- -2.31, p<0.0001). Poisoning was the most common method of self-harm. Other maltreatment syndromes were common for children ≤5 years of age. Assault by bodily force was common for children aged 6-16 years. Conclusions: Health professionals can play a key role in identifying and preventing the recurrence of intentional injury. Psychosocial care and access to support services are essential for self-harmers. Parental education interventions to reduce assaults of children and training in conflict de-escalation to reduce child peer-assaults are recommended. Implications for public health: Australia needs a whole-of-government and community approach to prevent intentional injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-246
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date12 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Assault
  • Cost
  • Hospitalisation
  • Intentional injury
  • Self-harm


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