Hazelinks: Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme data: Time Series Analyses
Amanda Johnson; Associate Professor Yuming Guo; Dr Joanna Dipnall; Dr Jillian Blackman; Christina Dimitriadis; Professor Michael Abramson
What did the study find?
As part of the Hazelwood Health Study, scientists, including CAR investigators, analysed the data of medical prescriptions and visits around the time of the Hazelwood fire in 2014. They saw that there was an association between the levels of particulate matter at the 2.5 micrometre level (PM2.5) and visits to the GP and medication use. They saw that increases in PM2.5 from the fire led to increases in GP visits and medication prescriptions. For example, for every 10 microgram per m3 increase in PM2.5, they saw:
an increase of 19% for all short and long GP consultations, 29% for all cardiovascular services, 27% for all respiratory services and 13% for all mental health consultations
an increase in 12% for cardiovascular medications, 15% for respiratory medications and 17 % for mental health medication
Why does it matter?
The more information that we have about an event means we can be better prepared in the future. If fire such as Hazelwood were to happen in the future, understanding how coal fires affect people’s health and health services can allow us to pro-actively introduce strategies to help mitigate these effects.
CAR members involved in this study
Media and other coverage of this study
Channel 9 news: Interview with Channel 9
ABC news: Hazelwood mine fire linked to spike in doctor visits and prescription medication use, 10 April 2018
LaTrobe Valley express: Mine fire GP visits, medication link, 12 April 2018