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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 34(1)

A population study on Indigenous hospitalisations for interpersonal violence

Lynn B. Meuleners A B, Andy H. Lee A, Delia Hendrie A, Michelle Fraser A

A School of Public Health, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U 1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.
B Corresponding author. Email: l.meuleners@curtin.edu.au
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Indigenous people experience a disproportionately high burden of interpersonal violence. This paper compares the demographic characteristics and injury circumstances of male and female Indigenous Australians hospitalised due to interpersonal violence in Western Australia over a 15-year period. A population-based, retrospective study of all hospitalisations due to interpersonal violence for Indigenous people in WA was undertaken using the linked 1990–2004 data from the WA Mortality Database and the Hospital Morbidity Data System. The majority of Indigenous hospitalisations were for females (56.3%). Female victims were more likely to be admitted due to maltreatment and rape (11.9%). Age profiles, residential location and length of hospital stay were similar between both sexes. The results indicate higher rates of hospitalisation and readmissions for interpersonal violence in WA among Indigenous females than males. There may potentially be different risk factors for each sex and further investigation will have public health benefits.

What is known about the topic? Indigenous people experience a disproportionately high burden of interpersonal violence compared with non-Indigenous people. In contrast to the general population, Indigenous females are hospitalised for interpersonal violence at a higher rate than their male counterparts.

What does this paper add? This study used population-based data to compare the different characteristics between Indigenous male and female hospitalisations due to interpersonal violence in Western Australia. Females were hospitalised at nearly 1.3 times the rate of males and comprised the majority (65%) of hospitalisations for those admitted more than once.

What are the implications for practitioners? The results provide policy makers and planners with a basis for making informed decisions on where to specifically target resources so as to reverse the increasing burden of interpersonal violence on Indigenous communities. In addition, more rigorous prospective investigation is required to determine the contributing factors of interpersonal violence hospitalisations for Indigenous people.

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