Comparing indigenous mortality across urban, rural and very remote areas: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Edward Carson*, Sifat Sharmin, Andrea B. Maier, Johannes J. Meij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: It remains unclear how indigenous mortality varies between residential areas. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis on mortality patterns in urban, rural and very remote areas for the adult and infant indigenous populations of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA.

Methods: A literature search was performed using major online electronic publication repositories. Studies presenting indigenous mortality or disease incidence/prevalence in urban, rural or very remote areas were included. Indigenous mortality and disease incidence/prevalence in both urban and very remote areas were compared with those in rural areas. Studies that reported number of deaths or disease incidences along with population were included in the meta-analysis.

Results: Thirty-one studies were included with data from Australia (n=19), Canada (n=3), New Zealand (n=1) and the USA (n=8). Indigenous adult all-cause mortality, cervical cancer mortality, trauma mortality and incidence of myocardial infarction were all significantly lower in urban areas compared with rural areas. Likewise, indigenous adult cardiovascular mortality and renal disease mortality were significantly lower in very remote areas compared with rural areas, while indigenous infant all-cause mortality showed no significant difference in urban, rural or very remote areas.

Conclusions: Urban areas consistently experienced lower adult indigenous mortality compared with rural areas, as did some very remote areas. Indigenous infants, however, experience similar mortality rates across all residential areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-227
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Health
Issue number4
Early online date29 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Ageing
  • Disease
  • Indigenous health
  • Mortality
  • Remote living

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