Life expectancy and potentially avoidable deaths in 2013–2015
This technical note accompanies the Healthy Communities: Life expectancy and potentially avoidable deaths in 2013–2015.
The report provides insights into two Performance and Accountability Framework indicators:
Estimated number of years a person is expected to live at birth, for males and females
- 184.108.40.206 Estimated life expectancies at birth
Number of potentially avoidable deaths per 100,000 people, age-standardised, for males and females
- 220.127.116.11 Age standardised mortality of potentially avoidable deaths
Further details on these indicators are available in the indicator specification tables.
About the data source
Life expectancy at birth
Life expectancy at birth indicates the average number of years that a new born baby could expect to live, assuming that the current age-specific death rates are experienced throughout his/her life.
These data are based on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) analysis of life expectancy estimates as provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
For more information on the Life Tables produced by the ABS, please refer to the following publication: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3302.0.55.001External link, opens in a new window.
Potentially avoidable deaths
Potentially avoidable deaths are deaths below the age of 75 from conditions that are potentially preventable through individualised care and/or treatable through existing primary or hospital care.
Data has been prepared according to the National Health Agreement (NHA) indicator potentially avoidable deaths. The NHA indicator specification has a detailed definition of avoidable deaths, including deaths from conditions that are potentially preventable through individualised care and/or treatable through existing primary or hospital care.
Data are reported for the Performance and Accountability Framework (PAF) indicator age-standardised mortality of potentially avoidable deaths. The PAF indicator has the same definition as the NHA indicator, but is reported for local areas including Primary Health Network (PHN) and Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3) levels of geography. Due to small numbers of deaths in local areas, reporting this indicator in local areas requires multiple years of data. An average over three years is a suitable time period for reporting this indicator.
These data are based on analysis of the AIHW National Mortality Database (NMD). The database includes cause of death information which are sourced from the Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages in each state and territory, the National Coronial Information System, and compiled and coded by the ABS.
For more information on the NMD, please refer to the following page on the AIHW website: https://www.aihw.gov.au/about-our-data/our-data-collections/national-mortality-database/about-nmdExternal link, opens in a new window.
About the measures
Life expectancy at birth
Life expectancy refers to the average number of years a person of a given age might expect to live if the age-specific death rates, for a given period in a given geographic region, continued throughout his or her lifetime.
The definition of life expectancy is outlined in the Meteor specification: National Healthcare Agreement: PI 06-Life expectancy, 2017: http://meteor.aihw.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/630383hExternal link, opens in a new window.
For this report, life expectancies at birth were calculated with reference to state/territory and Australian life tables (where appropriate) for a three year period. The disaggregation used for reporting life expectancy at birth is PHN area. These values are provided by the ABS.
For further information, including mathematical notation of the formulae used in the calculation of the data, please refer to the ABS Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2013–2015 Explanatory Notes: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3302.0.55.001Explanatory%20Notes12013-2015?OpenDocumentExternal link, opens in a new window.
Potentially avoidable deaths
Potentially avoidable deaths are those that occur prematurely (before the age of 75), from conditions that are potentially preventable through individualised care and/or treatable through existing primary or hospital care.
Potentially avoidable deaths include both preventable and treatable deaths:
- Potentially preventable deaths are those that are responsive to preventive health activities such as screening, good nutrition and healthy habits such as exercise
- Potentially treatable deaths are those that are responsive to medical services and therapeutic interventions such as surgery or medication.
These two categories are not mutually exclusive.
The definition of potentially avoidable deaths is outlined in the Meteor specification: National Healthcare Agreement: PI 16-Potentially avoidable deaths, 2017: http://meteor.aihw.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/630024External link, opens in a new window. (Also see Appendix).
The specification is derived from the nationally agreed definition using the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10).
This specification applies to the following indicators, presented as age-standardised rates, rounded to an integer:
- Number of potentially avoidable deaths per 100,000 people, age-standardised
- Number of potentially avoidable male deaths per 100,000 people, age-standardised
- Number of potentially avoidable female deaths per 100,000 people, age-standardised.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Mortality Database, 2009–2015
ABS Estimated Resident Population (ERP) at 30 June 2009–2015
|Indicator description and calculation|
|Numerator||Number of deaths of persons aged less than 75 categorised as potentially avoidable (see Appendix), summed over the 3 year period.|
|Denominator||Sum of ERP for persons aged less than 75 years as at 30 June for each of the 3 years in the reporting period.|
|Calculation||(Numerator ÷ denominator ) x 100,000 (age standardised)|
|Method of adjustment||Direct age-standardisation. The standard population used was the ABS ERP at 30 June 2001.|
Geographic disaggregation was reported at the following levels:
About the method
The report presents information at the geography of:
- Primary Health Network (PHN) areas – 31 geographic areas covering Australia, with boundaries defined by the Australian Government Department of Health1.
- Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3s) – 333 geographic areas covering Australia, with boundaries defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)2.
Metropolitan and regional PHN areas
PHN area boundaries align well with the ABS remoteness category of major cities2. A PHN area was categorised as a metropolitan PHN area if at least 85% of the population was in the major cities category. All other PHN areas were categorised as regional PHN areas. See Table 1 for the metropolitan or regional classification of each PHN area.
Table 1: Metropolitan and regional Primary Health Network areas
|Primary Health Network area||Proportion of the population* in major cities†|
|Metropolitan Primary Health Network areas|
|Central and Eastern Sydney||100%|
|Australian Capital Territory||100%|
|South Eastern Melbourne||98%|
|Gold Coast (Qld)||98%|
|North Western Melbourne||96%|
|South Western Sydney||90%|
|Nepean Blue Mountains (NSW)||85%|
|Regional Primary Health Network areas|
|Hunter New England and Central Coast (NSW)||64%|
|South Eastern NSW||53%|
|Darling Downs and West Moreton (Qld)||34%|
|Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast||31%|
|North Coast (NSW)||14%|
|Murray (Vic, NSW)||0%|
- ABS Estimated Resident Population at 30 June 2013
- Major cities – as defined by the ABS Australian Statistical Geography Standard Remoteness Areas
The report includes measures expressed as age-standardised rates per 100,000 population. Age-standardised rates are hypothetical rates that would have been observed if the populations studied had the same age distribution as the standard population. This facilitates comparisons between populations with different age structures. This adjustment is important because the rates of many health conditions vary with age.
The direct method of age-standardisation was applied to the data3. Age-standardised rates were derived by calculating crude rates by five year age groupings of 0–4 years to 70–74 years. These crude rates were then given a weight that reflected the age composition of the standard population. The current standard population is the ABS ERP for Australia as at 30 June 2001.
Suppression of results
Age-standardised rates for an area were suppressed for publication if any of the following conditions were met:
- There are fewer than 20 potentially avoidable deaths in the area
- The population in any age group in the area is less than 30
- The total population for the area is less than 2500.
1. Department of Health 2016. Primary Health Networks (PHNs). Canberra: Department of Health. Viewed 19 June 2017, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/PHN-HomeExternal link, opens in a new window.
2. ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2011. Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1–Main structure and greater capital city statistical areas, ABS cat. no. 1270.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2005. Age-standardised rate. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 19 June 2017, http://meteor.aihw.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/327276External link, opens in a new window.