Trends of paediatric head injury and acute care costs in Australia

Sonia Singh, Franz E. Babl, Stephen J.C. Hearps, Jeffrey S. Hoch, Kim Dalziel, John A. Cheek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Paediatric head injuries (PHI) are the most common cause of trauma-related emergency department (ED) presentations. This study sought to report the incidence of PHI in Australia, examine the temporal trends from 2014 to 2018 and estimate the patient and population-level acute care costs. Methods: Taking a public-sector health-care perspective, we applied direct and indirect hospital costs for PHI-related ED visits and acute admissions. All costs were inflated to 2018 Australian dollars ($). The patient-level analysis was performed with data from 17 841 children <18 years old enrolled in the prospective Australasian Paediatric Head Injury Study. Mechanisms of injury were characterised by the total and average acute care costs. The population-level data of PHI-related ED presentations were obtained from the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority. Age-standardised incidence rates (IR) and incidence rate ratios (IRR) were calculated, and negative binomial regression examined the temporal trend. Results: The age-standardised IR for PHI was 2734 per 100 000 population in 2018, with a significant increase over 5 years (IRR 1.13, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12–1.14; P < 0.001) and acute care costs of $154 million. Falls occurred in 70% of the study cohort, with average costs per episode of $666 (95% CI: $627–$706), accounting for 47% of acute care costs. Transportation-related injuries occurred in 4.1% of the study cohort, with average costs per episode of $8555 (95% CI: $6193–$10 917), accounting for 35% of acute care costs. Conclusion: PHI have increased significantly in Australia and are associated with substantial acute care costs. Population-based efforts are required for road safety and injury prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Australia
  • Craniocerebral Trauma
  • emergency medicine
  • Hospital Costs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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