Notes on the data: Aboriginal premature mortality by selected cause

Deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Aboriginal people aged 0 to 74 years, 2016 to 2020


Policy context:  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) limits airflow in the lungs and covers those long-term lung conditions which are characterised by shortness of breath, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema [1]. Whilst each condition can occur on its own, many people have a mixture of the two problems. COPD usually occurs in people who have smoked or continue to smoke cigarettes. Exposure to irritants like dust and fumes can also increase the risk of developing COPD; and there is also a rare genetic cause of COPD [2].

Over 2016 to 2020, 68.5% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were premature – details here. This was over twice (2.27 times) the proportion for the non-Indigenous population at ages 0 to 74 years (68.5% c.f. 30.2%, a rate ratio of 2.27).


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). COPD - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [Internet]. [cited 2013 Oct 18]. Available from:
  2. The Australian Lung Foundation. COPD [Internet] [cited 2013 Oct 18]. Available from:

Notes:  International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD-10) codes: J00-J99

Deaths data

For deaths data released since 2007, the ABS has applied a staged approach to the coding of cause of death which affects the number of records available for release at any date. In general, the latest year’s data is preliminary, the second latest is revised and the data for the remaining years is final. For further information about the ABS revisions process see the following and related sites:

However, data published here are from the following releases: 2016 and 2017, final; 2018, revised; and 2019 and 2020, preliminary.

Data quality

Almost all deaths in Australia are registered. However, Indigenous status is not always recorded, or recorded correctly. The incompleteness of Indigenous identification (referred to as completeness of coverage) means that the number of deaths registered as Indigenous is an underestimate of the actual number of deaths which occur in the Indigenous population. It should also be noted that completeness of coverage is likely to vary between geographical areas.

While there is incomplete coverage of Indigenous deaths in all state and territory registration systems, some jurisdictions have been assessed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as having a sufficient level of coverage to enable statistics on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality to be produced. Those jurisdictions are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.


Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic outcomes (based on IRSEO) and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Aboriginal deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at 0 to 74 years


Denominator:  Aboriginal population aged 0 to 74 years


Detail of analysis:  Average annual indirectly age-standardised rate per 100,000 Aboriginal population (aged 0 to 74 years); and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard


Source:  Data compiled by PHIDU from deaths data based on the 2016 to 2020 Cause of Death Unit Record Files supplied by the Australian Coordinating Registry and the Victorian Department of Justice, on behalf of the Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the National Coronial Information System. The population is the proportional estimated resident population (erp), developed by PHIDU, 2016 to 2020 average: click herefor more details.


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