Mortality variation across Australia: Descriptive data for States and Territories, and statistical divisions

D. Wilkinson*, J. Hiller, J. Moss, P. Ryan, T. Worsley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To describe variation in all cause and selected cause-specific mortality rates across Australia. Methods: Mortality and population data for 1997 were obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. All cause and selected cause-specific mortality rates were calculated and directly standardised to the 1997 Australian population in 5-year age groups. Selected major causes of death included cancer, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, accidents and suicide. Rates are reported by statistical division, and State and Territory. Results: All cause age-standardised mortality was 6.98 per 1000 in 1997 and this varied 2-fold from a low in the statistical division of Pilbara, Western Australia (5.78, 95% confidence interval 5.06-6.56), to a high in Northern Territory-excluding Darwin (11.30, 10.67-11.98). Similar mortality variation (all p<0.0001) exists for cancer (1.01-2.23 per 1000) and coronary artery disease (0.99-2.23 per 1000), the two biggest killers. Larger variation (all p<0.0001) exists for cerebrovascular disease (0.7-11.8 per 10,000), diabetes (0.7-6.9 per 10,000), accidents (1.7-7.2 per 10,000) and suicide (0.6-3.8 per 10,000). Less marked variation was observed when analysed by State and Territory, but Northern Territory consistently has the highest age-standardised mortality rates. Conclusions: Analysed by statistical division, substantial mortality gradients exist across Australia, suggesting an inequitable distribution of the determinants of health. Further research is required to better understand this heterogeneity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-233
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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