Main Article Content
Official Australian estimates of socioeconomic inequalities in cause-specific mortality have been based on area-level socioeconomic measures. Using area-level measures is known to underestimate inequalities.
Objectives and Approach
Using recently released census linked to mortality data, we estimate education-related inequalities in cause-specific mortality for Australia. We used 2016 Australian Census and Death Registration data (2016-17) linked via a Person Linkage Spine (linkage rates: 92% and 97%, respectively) from the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP). Education, from the Census, was categorised as low (no secondary school graduation or other qualification), intermediate (secondary graduation with/without other non-tertiary qualifications) and high (tertiary qualification). Cause of death was coded according to the underlying cause of death using the ICD-10. We used negative binomial regression to estimate relative rates (RR) for cause-specific mortality at ages 25-84 years, in the 12-months following Census, comparing low vs high education, separately by sex and 20-year age group, adjusting for age.
80,317 deaths occurred among 13,856,202 people. For those aged 25-44 years, relative inequalities were large for causes related to injury and smaller for less
preventable deaths (e.g. for men, suicide RR=5.6, 95%CI: 4.1-7.5 and brain cancer RR=1.3, 0.6-3.1). For those aged 45-64, inequalities were large for causes related to health behaviours and amenable to medical intervention, e.g. lung cancer (men RR= 6.4, 4.7-8.8) and ischaemic heart disease (women RR=5.0, 3.2-7.7), and were small for less preventable causes e.g. brain cancer (women RR=0.9, 0.6-1.3). Patterns among those aged 65-84years were similar to those aged 45-64 years.
Conclusion / Implications
In Australia, inequalities in mortality are substantial. Our findings highlight the health burden from inequalities, opportunities for prevention and provide insights on targets to effectively reduce them.
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