Inequities in Burns Injuries for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children

Ms Courtney Ryder1,2, Dr Tamara Mackean1,2, Dr  Kate Hunter1, Associate Professor Kris Rogers1,3, Professor Belinda Gabbe4, Professor Andrew Holland5, Professor Rebecca Ivers1,2,6

1The George Institute, Newtown, Australia, 2Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, 3The University of Technology Sydney, Broadway, Australia, 4School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 5School of Medicine, The University of Sydney, Westmead, Australia, 6School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW, Sydney, Australia



Health equity is the absence of avoidable health disparities. Equity variables as defined by PROGRESS-Plus (residence, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status (SES)), have been associated with burn incidence and severity in Australian children. We evaluated equity variables associated with burn characteristics and severity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children as compared to other Australian children.


Using Australian data from the Burns Registry of Australian and New Zealand (October 2009 – June 2018), retrospective analyses were conducted on, children aged <16 years with an acute burn presentation. Equity variables, burn characteristics and severity were examined through descriptive statistics. Significance was explored through X2 tests. Missing data were supplemented through multivariate imputation chained equations. All data were analysed through Stata 15.1. Indigenous research methods were used throughout.


A total of 6980 patients were included. Male gender (61.0%), 1-4 years of age (52.9%), very low SES (57.2%) and primary cause from scalds (49.8%) were common in all Australian children. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children made up 10.4% of the study group (compared to 6.0% of the total population) and were more likely to come from outer regional areas (29.0%), have full thickness burns (15.7%), with a hospital length of stay 4.8 days longer than other Australian children (4.59 days).


Equity differences exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other Australian children for burn characteristics and severity. This suggests inequities in both prevention programs and access to health services, which may benefit from targeted intervention.


Courtney Ryder is a PhD student in the Injury Division at The George Institute. Her studies are part of the Coolamon study, understanding burn injuries in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: treatment, access to services and outcomes. For which she has a NHMRC postgraduate scholarship to investigate the trajectory of recovery, quality of life, parental resilience and economic impacts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families whose children are recovering from a burns injury. She is also a CI for on the NHMRC funded study, preventing falls in older Aboriginal people: the Ironbark trial. Ryder is seen as an emerging research leader in Aboriginal injury and rehabilitation, with a keen interest on equitable health outcomes for communities.


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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