This briefing provides an overview of injury as a chronic health issue in Australia. The report highlights the long-term health consequences following severe injury and the effects on individual's physical and psychosocial wellbeing. Types of injuries covered include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, severe burns as well as injury comorbidities such as fractures and self-harm.

Key findings:

• Injury is the leading cause of mortality, morbidity and permanent disability that affects the quality of life of injured people and their families in Australia.

• In 2003, the burden of injury was 7.0% of total Disability-Adjusted Life Years, with 76% of the overall injury burden due to mortality.

• The injury burden in Australia is dominated by suicide and self-inflicted injuries, road traffic accidents and accidental falls.

• Injury was a major cause of hospitalisation, accounting for 5.5% of all hospital separations.

• People with a prior injury have significantly more health service use (hospital admissions and physician claims) than do the general population.

• Injuries appear to increase mental health service use for those with pre-existing mental health problems and lead to mental health service use among those without pre-injury mental health conditions.

• Post traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorders were the most frequently diagnosed health conditions following post-injury trauma.

• There appears to be an aetiological link between mental health conditions and injury, particularly in relation to risk taking behaviours, alcohol misuse, and psychological traits such as impulsivity, sensation seeking, and risk perception.

• Given the human and economic costs of injury, it is important to address the chronic health effects of injury and to identify and reduce pre-existing risk factors that predispose people to injury.

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