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Diabetes contributed to 10% of all deaths in 2014, that is over 15,700 deaths, according to the AIHW National Mortality Database. Diabetes was the underlying cause of death in around 4,300 deaths (28% of diabetes deaths). It was an associated cause of death in a further 11,400 deaths (72% of diabetes deaths).

Diabetes is far more likely to be listed as an associated cause of death. This is because it is often not diabetes itself that leads directly to death but one of its complications that will be listed as the underlying cause of death on the death certificate. When diabetes is an associated cause of death, the conditions most commonly listed as the underlying cause of death were coronary heart disease, cancer and stroke.

Where diabetes was listed as the underlying and/or associated cause of death:

Trends

Diabetes death rates have remained relatively stable over the last two to three decades, both where diabetes is the underlying cause of death and where it is the underlying and/or associated cause of death:

  • On average, diabetes was the underlying cause of death in around 3,100 deaths per year between 1985 and 2014, equating to death rates of 17–22 deaths per 100,000 population for males and 13–15 per 100,000 for females (Data table).
  • On average, diabetes was the underlying and/or associated cause of death in around 12,500 deaths per year between 1997 and 2014, equating to death rates of 67–78 per 100,000 for males and 41–49 per 100,000 for females (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Trends in diabetes deaths (underlying and/or associated cause), by sex, 1997–2014

The line chart shows that deaths with diabetes as an underlying or associated cause remained fairly stable between 1997 and 2014 for both males and females —67–78 per 100,000 population for males and 41–49 per 100,000 population for females. Diabetes death rates were consistently higher for males than females over this period.

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Data table).

Age and sex

In 2014, diabetes death rates (as the underlying and/or associated cause):

  • Were overall 1.6 times as high for males than females (69 and 45 per 100,000 population). Age-specific rates for males were higher than females across all age groups (Figure 2).
  • Increased with age, with rates around 3 times as high in those aged 85 and over (1,503 and 1,165 per 100,000 for males and females) compared with those 75–84 years (608 and 394 per 100,000 for males and females) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Diabetes deaths (underlying and/or associated cause), by age and sex, 2014

The vertical bar chart shows that deaths with diabetes as an underlying or associated cause increased steadily with age for both males and females in 2014—rates were around 3 times as high in those aged 85 and over (1,503 and 1,165 per 100,000 for males and females) compared with those aged 75–84 (608 and 394 per 100,000 for males and females). Males had consistently higher diabetes death rates than females.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Data table).

Inequalities

Diabetes death rates (as the underlying and/or associated cause) increased with remoteness and socioeconomic disadvantage, and were higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people:

  • Twice as high in Remote and very remote areas compared with Major cities (101 compared with 52 per 100,000 population in 2012–14).  The gap in these death rates was higher for females than males―2.3 times as high in Remote and very remote areas than in Major cities for females (97 compared with 41 per 100,000) and 1.6 times as high for males (107 compared with 66 per 100,000) (Figure 3).
  • Twice as high in the lowest socioeconomic group compared with the highest socioeconomic group (75 compared with 37 per 100,000 in 2014). This gap was similar for males and females (Figure 3).
  • 4 times as high among Indigenous Australians compared with non-Indigenous Australians (234 compared with 55 deaths per 100,000, in 2012–14). This gap in death rates was higher for females than males―6 times as high for Indigenous females (236 compared with 43 per 100,000) and 3 times as high for Indigenous males (233 compared with 70 per 100,000) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Diabetes deaths (underlying and/or associated cause), by selected population characteristics, 2012–2014

The horizontal bar chart shows that in 2012–2014, deathrates with diabetes as an underlying or associated cause were around twice as high in Remote/Very remote areas compared to Major cities – 107 compared to 66 per 100,000 for males and 97 compared to 41 per 100,000 for females. Diabetes death rates  in the lowest socioeconomic group (group 1) were considerably higher than in the highest socioeconomic group (group 5) (91 and 48 per 100,000 for males and 62 and 28 per 100,000 for females. Rates were also higher in Indigenous Australians compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts ─ almost 6 times as high for Indigenous females and 3 times as high for Indigenous males.

Notes

  1. Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.
  2. Analysis for socioeconomic groups is for 2014 only.
  3. Analysis for Indigenous status includes data from NSW, QLD, WA, SA and NT only.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Data table).

For more information on how deaths are registered, coded and updated, see about deaths data.

For more information on diabetes deaths, see Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease: Australian facts: mortality and Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease: Australian facts: Indigenous Australians