Objective: The prevalence of life-limiting conditions in children in Australia is unknown; such data are needed to inform health service planning for paediatric palliative care. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of life-limiting conditions for children and young people aged 0-21 years living in Queensland, Australia. Methods: An observational study using linked administrative health data from the 2011 and 2016 calendar years was performed for all individuals with an International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision Australian Modification code relating to a life-limiting condition eligible for palliative care recorded against an admission to a public or private hospital and health service provider in Queensland or against a cause or underlying cause of death in the Queensland Registrar General Deaths. Results: The overall prevalence of life-limiting conditions per 10 000 population increased from 35.2 (95% confidence interval (CI) 34.2-36.2) in 2011 to 43.2 (95% CI 42.1-44.4) in 2016. This increase in prevalence was greatest for children <1 year of age and for those who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. Conclusion: This study has estimated the prevalence of life-limiting conditions for children and young people aged 0-21 years living in Queensland. Estimation of the number of children and young people with life-limiting conditions can inform health service planning for paediatric palliative care in Queensland. Future research is needed to identify the number of children and young people with life-limiting conditions who do not have an admitted episode. What is known about the topic?: Data from the UK indicate that the prevalence of life-limiting conditions among children and young people is increasing. However, such data are not available for the Australian population. Because prevalence data can be affected by population characteristics, it is important to establish country-specific epidemiological data rather than extrapolating data from other countries. Country-specific data can inform health planners and policy makers of the scale of the problem within a geographical and demographic context. This is essential for Australia given the diverse geographical and demographic characteristics and specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. What does this paper add?: This study is the first to provide an estimate of the prevalence of life-limiting conditions in children and young people aged 0-21 years in Queensland. Estimates include the prevalence of life-limiting conditions in children and young people who identify as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent. What are the implications for practitioners?: The prevalence of life-limiting conditions in Queensland is greater than previously thought. There is a need to grow both a generalist and specialist paediatric palliative care workforce in response to this increasing prevalence. The estimates of prevalence proportions from this study provide the foundation on which future health service activities can be built because they provide country-specific clinical and demographic characteristics.
- observational study
- oceanic ancestry group
- palliative care
- state health planning Australia