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Tobacco smoking is a well-recognised risk factor for many diseases . This study assesses the extent of smoking-attributable hospitalisation in the Northern Territory (NT) Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations, and examines smoking-attributable hospitalisation trends for the years 1998/99 to 2008/09.
Hospital discharge data were used for the analysis. The proportion of conditions attributable to tobacco smoking was calculated using the aetiological fraction method. Age-adjusted smoking-attributable hospitalisation rates were calculated to describe the impact of tobacco smoking on the health of Territorians. A negative binominal regression model was applied to examine trends in smoking-attributable hospitalisations.
Aboriginal Territorians were found to have higher rates of smoking-attributable hospitalisation, with Aboriginal males more than three times and Aboriginal females more than four times more likely to be hospitalised for smoking-attributable conditions than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. The age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for Aboriginal males increased by 31% and for Aboriginal females by 18% during the study period. There were more modest increases for NT non-Aboriginal males and females (5% and 17% respectively). The increase among Aboriginal males occurred up until 2005/06 followed by moderation in the trend. There were small reductions in smoking-attributable hospitalisation rates among all populations in younger age groups (less than 25years).
Aboriginal Territorians experience much higher smoking-attributable hospitalisation rates than non-Aboriginal Territorians. The scale of the smoking burden and suggestion of recent moderation among Aboriginal men reinforce the importance of tobacco control interventions that are designed to meet the needs of the NT’s diverse population groups. Preventing smoking and increasing smoking cessation rates remain priorities for public health interventions in the NT.