This study discusses the derivation and application of the aetiologic fraction measure to a sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities from north Queensland. The methodology involves applying the set of aetiologic fractions developed by English et al. (1995) to existing mortality and morbidity data kept by Queensland Health for this sample and to data for all Queensland.
This study found that among the ATSI females, the average mortality rate attributable to cigarettes was 3.6 times the Queensland rate; and the ATSI male rate was 2.3 times the Queensland rate. With alcohol attributable deaths, the ATSI female rates were 3.3 times the Queensland rate and the male rate, 4.3 times that of Queensland's. Overall however, ATSI men were most at risk of death and hospitalisation from cigarette and alcohol misuse. The costs incurred by this sample for conditions attributable to cigarettes and alcohol is estimated at $1.1 million.
Although the set of fractions were developed to suit the age and population structure and the prevalence of cigarette and alcohol use in Australia, its appropriateness to suit particular subgroups, like the Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander population of north Queensland, is examined. This and other limitations of the methodology and the public health implications of the findings are raised.