Objective: To examine the magnitude, 10-year temporal trends and treatment cost of intentional injury hospitalisations of children aged ≤16 years in Australia.
Method: A retrospective examination of linked hospitalisation and mortality data for children aged ≤16 years during 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2012 with self-harm or assault injuries. Negative binomial regression examined temporal trends.
Results: There were 18,223 self-harm and 13,877 assault hospitalisations, with a treatment cost of $64 million and $60.6 million, respectively. The self-harm hospitalisation rate was 59.8 per 100,000 population (95%CI 58.96–60.71) with no annual decrease. The assault hospitalisation rate was 29.9 per 100,000 population (95%CI 29.39–30.39) with a 4.2% annual decrease (95%CI −6.14– −2.31, p<0.0001). Poisoning was the most common method of self-harm. Other maltreatment syndromes were common for children ≤5 years of age. Assault by bodily force was common for children aged 6–16 years.
Conclusions: Health professionals can play a key role in identifying and preventing the recurrence of intentional injury. Psychosocial care and access to support services are essential for self-harmers. Parental education interventions to reduce assaults of children and training in conflict de-escalation to reduce child peer-assaults are recommended.
Implications for public health: Australia needs a whole-of-government and community approach to prevent intentional injury.