Effect of healthcare on mortality: Trends in avoidable mortality in Australia and comparisons with Western Europe

R. J. Korda, Jim R.G. Butler*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: Using the concept of avoidable mortality, international studies suggest that healthcare has been effective in reducing mortality. This paper provides an analysis of avoidable mortality in Australia and compares trends with those of Western Europe. Methods: Using unit-record mortality data, we calculated avoidable mortality rates in Australia for 1968-2001. We partitioned avoidable causes into three categories: those amenable to medical care; those mainly responsive to health policy; and ischaemic heart disease. We used Poisson regression to model the trends. We compared trends with those of nine European countries using published data. Results: Total avoidable death rates fell by 68% in females and 72% in males. The corresponding non-avoidable death rates fell by 35 and 33%. The annual declines in avoidable mortality rates were: 3.47% [95% confidence intervals (CI) 3.44-3.50%] in males and 3.89% (95% CI 3.86-3.91%) in females. For non-avoidable mortality rates, the annual declines were 1.09% (95% CI 1.05-1.13%) and 0.95% (95% CI 0.92-0.98%), respectively. In females, declines in death rates from causes amenable to medical care contributed 54% to the decline in avoidable mortality rates, ischaemic heart disease contributed 45%, and causes responsive to health policy intervention contributed 1%. In males, the corresponding contributions were 32, 57 and 11%. These rates, and the declines between 1980 and 1998, were comparable with selected European countries, with Australia's ranking improving over the period. Conclusion: Trends in avoidable mortality in Australia suggest that the Australian healthcare system has been effective in improving population health. Australia's experience compares favourably with that of Europe.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)95-105
    Number of pages11
    JournalPublic Health
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


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