Research that has examined Aboriginal children's hospitalization rates at the national level has been limited to analyses of areas with large percentages of Aboriginal residents, rather than of Aboriginal individuals. This study uses linked census and administrative data to describe hospitalization patterns among children and youth aged 0 to 19, by Aboriginal identity, for all provinces and territories except Quebec.
The 2006 Census was linked to the 2006/2007-to-2008/2009 Discharge Abstract Database, which contains hospital records from all acute care facilities (except Quebec). Hospital records were examined by Aboriginal identity, as reported to the census, according to International Classification of Diseases chapters based on "the most responsible diagnosis." Age-standardized hospitalization rates (ASHRs) were calculated per 100,000 population, and age-standardized rate ratios (RRs) were calculated for Aboriginal groups relative to non-Aboriginal people.
ASHRs were consistently higher among Aboriginal children and youth relative to their non-Aboriginal counterparts; rates for children aged 0 to 9 were 1.4 to 1.8 times higher; for youth aged 10 to 19, 2.0 to 3.8 times higher. For all children aged 0 to 9, the leading cause of hospitalization was "diseases of the respiratory system," but RRs for Aboriginal children ranged from 1.7 to 2.5, compared with non-Aboriginal children. Disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal 10- to 19-year-olds were pronounced for injuries due to assaults (RRs from 4.8 to 10.0), self-inflicted injuries (RRs from 2.7 to 14.2), and pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium (RRs from 4.1 to 9.8).
Additional research is needed to examine reasons for the disparities in hospitalization rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children and youth.