Notes on the data: Potential years of life lost, by selected cause
Potential years of life lost from deaths of persons aged 0 to 74 years, by selected cause, 2013 to 2017
Policy context: As noted for the indicator of premature mortality, some 34% of all deaths over the years 2013 to 2017 occurred before 75 years of age, although the proportion varies by sex and by cause, as shown here
However, depending on the age at which a person dies, the number of years of life lost had they lived until, say, 74 years of age will vary. Potential years of life lost (PYLL) is a measure of the sum of the potential years of life lost from deaths at 15 years (60 years), 45 years (30 years) and so on, assuming they had all lived to 74 years of age.
Further, a particular PYLL value will be higher if mortality among children or young people, for example from suicide or road traffic accidents, is high; chronic diseases causing death among the elderly, on the other hand, have little effect on these values. In Australia, there were an average of 881,528 PYLLs per year over the five years 2013 to 2017, almost two thirds of which were for males (62.5%) and over one third for females (37.5%) . This represents a substantial decrease in PYLL from 1907, when there were 382 PYLLs per 1,000 population, to 2017, when this figure was 38 PYLLs per 1,000 population, or 9.9% of the 1907 figure .
Some notable variations shown by the data for the five years 2013 to 2017  are:
- looking at individual causes of death, suicide accounts for the largest number of PYLL (4.0 PYLLs per 1,000 population, 10.1 per cent of all PYLLs).;
- at the chapter level, the highest rates were recorded for cancer (with total cancers accounting for 12.5 PYLLs per 1,000 population), with the range between the States and Territories from 11.3 PYLLs per 1,000 population in the Australian Capital Territory and 11.8 in Victoria, to 15.0 PYLLs per 1,000 population in Tasmania and 16.1 in the Northern Territory;
- the second highest rates at the chapter level were from external causes (9.5 PYLLs per 1,000 population), ranging from 6.9 in the Australian Capital Territory to 21.1 in the Northern Territory;
- the rate of PYLLs for the people who lived in the most disadvantaged areas was more than four times that in the least disadvantaged areas across Australia for diabetes (4.54 times) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (4.74); and
- for those living in the Very Remote areas, PYLL rates were 8.67 times those in the Major Cities areas for diabetes and 6.79 times for road traffic injuries – the variation between the States and Territories for diabetes ranged from 1.59 in Victoria to 7.78 in the Norther Territory, while for road traffic injuries it ranged from 2.11 in the Northern Territory to 8.76 in New South Wales.
- PHIDU, based on 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; 2013 to 2017.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Deaths in Australia. Available from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/web/152/deaths/deaths-in-australia/contents/age-at-death; last accessed 3 February 2020
Details of data presented:
Note: Bracketed numbers below refer to codes in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10-AM) chapters.
- Potential years of life lost from cancer (C00-D48)
- Potential years of life lost from colorectal cancer (C18 to C20)
- Potential years of life lost from lung cancer (C33, C34)
- Potential years of life lost from breast cancer (C50)
- Potential years of life lost from diabetes (E10 to E14)
- Potential years of life lost from circulatory system diseases (I00-I99)
- Potential years of life lost from ischaemic heart disease (I20-I25)
- Potential years of life lost from cerebrovascular disease (I60-I69)
- Potential years of life lost from respiratory system diseases (J00-J99)
- Potential years of life lost from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (J40-J44)
- Potential years of life lost from external causes (V01-Y98)
- Potential years of life lost from road traffic injuries (V00-V06., V09.2, V09.3, V10-V18.[4,5,9], V19.[4,5,6,9], V20-V28.[4,5,9], V29.[ 4,5,6,9], V30-V38. [5,6,7,9], V39.[4,5,6,9], V40-V48[5,6,7,9], V49[4,5,6,9], V50-V48.[5,6,7,9], V59.[4,5,6,9], V60-V68.[5,6,7,9], V69.[4,5,6,9], V70-V78.[5,6,7,9], V79.[4,5,6,9], V81.1, V82.1, V82.9, V83-V86.[0,1,2,3], V87, V89.2, V89.3)
- Potential years of life lost from suicide and self-inflicted injuries (X60-X84, Y87.0)
Notes: For detailed data files 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 each release, the latest year’s data are preliminary, the second latest are revised and the data for the earlier years are final. In this way, the majority of records are released earlier than would be the case than were no data released until files had been returned from Coroners’ offices. For further information about the ABS revisions process see the following and related sites: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3303.0Explanatory+Notes12012.
Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area
Numerator: The sum of the number of years between the actual age at death and 75 years of age for deaths by selected cause of persons aged 0 to 74 years over the years 2013 to 2017
Denominator: Persons aged 0 to 74 years
Detail of analysis: Average annual indirectly age-standardised rate of potential years of life lost per 1,000 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 2013 to 2017 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 ABS Estimated Resident Population (ERP) for Australia, 30 June 2013 to 30 June 2017.