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Health conditions

Burden of disease

Burden of disease analysis measures the combined impact of morbidity (non-fatal burden) and mortality (fatal burden) to assess and compare the health loss from different diseases and injuries in a population. The non-fatal and fatal burden are added together to produce a single summary measure called disability-adjusted life years (DALY). One DALY is 1 year of ‘healthy life’ lost due to illness and/or death—the more DALY associated with a disease or injury, the greater the burden.

In 2011, across all disease groups, Indigenous Australians experienced a higher rate of burden than non-Indigenous Australians.

The largest contributors to the gap in disease burden between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (based on age-standardised DALY rate differences) were:

  • cardiovascular diseases (19% of the gap)
  • mental and substance use disorders (14%)
  • injuries (14%) (AIHW 2016).