All-age hospitalization rates in coal seam gas areas in Queensland, Australia, 1995-2011

Werner, Angela K., Watt, Kerrianne, Cameron, Cate M., Vink, Sue, Page, Andrew, and Jagals, Paul (2016) All-age hospitalization rates in coal seam gas areas in Queensland, Australia, 1995-2011. BMC Public Health, 16 (125). pp. 1-11.

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Background: Unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) is expanding globally, with Australia expanding development in the form of coal seam gas (CSG). Residents and other interest groups have voiced concerns about the potential environmental and health impacts related to CSG. This paper compares objective health outcomes from three study areas in Queensland, Australia to examine potential environmentally-related health impacts.

Methods: Three study areas were selected in an ecologic study design: a CSG area, a coal mining area, and a rural/agricultural area. Admitted patient data, as well as population data and additional factors, were obtained for each calendar year from 1995 through 2011 to calculate all-age hospitalization rates and age-standardized rates in each of these areas. The three areas were compared using negative binomial regression analyses (unadjusted and adjusted models) to examine increases over time of hospitalization rates grouped by primary diagnosis (19 ICD chapters), with rate ratios serving to compare the within-area regression slopes between the areas.

Results: The CSG area did not have significant increases in all-cause hospitalization rates over time for all-ages compared to the coal and rural study areas in adjusted models (RR: 1.02, 95 % CI: 1.00-1.04 as compared to the coal mining area; RR: 1.01, 95 % CI: 0.99-1.04 as compared to the rural area). While the CSG area did not show significant increases in specific hospitalization rates compared to both the coal mining and rural areas for any ICD chapters in the adjusted models, the CSG area showed increases in hospitalization rates compared only to the rural area for neoplasms (RR: 1.09, 95 % CI: 1.02-1.16) and blood/immune diseases (RR: 1.14, 95 % CI: 1.02-1.27).

Conclusions: This exploratory study of all-age hospitalization rates for three study areas in Queensland suggests that certain hospital admissions rates increased more quickly in the CSG study area than in other study areas, particularly the rural area, after adjusting for key sociodemographic factors. These findings are an important first step in identifying potential health impacts of CSG in the Australian context and serve to generate hypotheses for future studies.

Item ID: 43250
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2458
Keywords: Coal seam gas, Environmental health impact, Hospital admissions, Queensland, Unconventional natural gas
Additional Information:

© 2016 Werner et al. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC), University of Queensland, Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry
Projects and Grants: NHMRC Public Health Fellowship ID 428254
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2016 07:37
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4202 Epidemiology > 420210 Social epidemiology @ 60%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420604 Injury prevention @ 40%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920408 Health Status (e.g. Indicators of Well-Being) @ 40%
92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920204 Evaluation of Health Outcomes @ 30%
85 ENERGY > 8502 Mining and Extraction of Energy Resources > 850201 Coal Mining and Extraction @ 30%
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