Medical Journal of Australia
Objective: To determine the number of assault-related admissions to hospital in the Central Australia region of the Northern Territory over a six-year period. Design and setting: Retrospective analysis of all patients admitted to Alice Springs Hospital (ASH) and Tennant Creek Hospital (TCH) from July 1995 to June 2001, where the primary cause of injury was “assault”. Main outcome measures: Frequency of assault-related admission to hospital; demographic characteristics of the victims. Results: In the six years, there were 2449 assault-related admissions to ASH and 545 to TCH. Adults aged 25–34 years were most frequently hospitalised for assault, in a proportion greater than their proportion in the NT population. Females represented 59.7% of people admitted to ASH and 54.7% to TCH, greater than their proportion in the NT population. Aboriginals comprised 95.2% of ASH and 89.0% of TCH admissions, and were admitted in a significantly greater proportion than their proportion in the NT population (P < 0.001). The age-adjusted hospital admission rate resulting from assault has increased (P = 0.002) at an average rate of 1.6 (SE, 0.2) per 10 000 people per year. The proportion of assault-related admissions associated with alcohol has also increased significantly (P < 0.001). Conclusion: The frequency of assault-related admissions to hospital, especially among the Aboriginal population, suggests that this major public health issue is escalating.