Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology





First Page


Last Page


PubMed ID





Kurongkurl Katitjin




National Health and Medical Research Council

Grant Number

NHMRC Number : 1078214

Grant Link


Christensen, D., Gibberd, A., McNamara, B., Eades, S., Shepherd, C., Preen, D. B., . . . Strobel, N. (2023). Hospital and emergency department discharge against medical advice in Western Australian Aboriginal children aged 0–4 years from 2002 to 2018: A cohort study. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 37(8), 691-703.


Background: Discharge against medical advice (DAMA) is a priority issue for the health system. Little is known about the factors associated with DAMA for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) children in Australia. Objectives: Investigate the associations between DAMA for hospital admissions and emergency department (ED) presentations and: (i) child, family and episode of service characteristics and (ii) 30-day readmission/ re-presentation. Methods: We conducted a cohort study of Aboriginal children born in Western Australia (2002–2013) who had ≥ 1 hospital admissions (n = 16,931) or ED presentations (n = 26,546) within the first 5 years of life. The outcome of interest was hospital and ED DAMA and adjusted odds ratio were derived using multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression. Results: In the Hospital Cohort, there were 43,149 hospitalisations for 16,931 children, with 684 hospitalisations (1.6%) recorded as DAMA. In the ED Cohort, there were 232,082 ED presentations in 26,546 children, with 10,918 ED presentations (4.7%) recorded as DAMA. DAMA occurring in hospitals between 2014 and 2018, the adjusted odds decreased by 75% compared to the period between 2002 and 2005. The adjusted odds of ED DAMA increased by 46% over the same period. Hospital admissions in regional and remote hospitals were almost seven times the adjusted odds of DAMA compared with hospital admissions in Perth metropolitan hospitals. The adjusted odds of ED DAMA decreased by 12% for ED presentations in regional and remote hospitals compared to those in Perth metropolitan hospitals. There was no evidence of hospital DAMA being associated with hospital readmission within 30 days and limited evidence of ED DAMA being associated with re-presenting to an ED within 30 days. Conclusions: The study identified several important determinants of DAMA, including admission status, triage status, location and calendar year. These findings could inform targeted measures to decrease DAMA, particularly in regional and remote communities.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.