Exploring harms experienced by children aged 7 to 11 using ambulance attendance data: A 6-year comparison with adolescents aged 12–17

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Many population data sources do not routinely collect data of children under 12, despite research showing that mental health, self-injurious behaviour, and substance ingestion can have severe consequences in this age group. We used 6 years (January 2012 to December 2017) of ambulance attendance data from the Australian state of Victoria to characterise mental health, self-injurious behaviour, and substance ingestion in children aged 7–11. We compared this group to older children aged 12–17. We found that in comparison to those aged 12–17 (n = 26,778), a smaller number of children aged 7–11 years (n = 1558) were experiencing serious harms, with mental health symptomology the most common harmful outcome. Self-injurious behaviour significantly increased in both age groups throughout the study period. For mental health, self-injurious behaviour and substance ingestion in the 7–11 age group, males were significantly over-represented. These aged 7–11 were more likely to ingest pharmaceuticals, rather than alcohol or illicit substances, and suicidal ideation was the most common self-injurious behaviour in this age group. Our study suggests that data collection needs to occur specifically in the 7–11 age group, and importantly, services and interventions to improve mental health and wellbeing will need to be specifically designed and targeted at this age group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1385
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2018


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol
  • Illicit drugs
  • Prescription drugs
  • Self-injury
  • Socio-economic status
  • Substance ingestion
  • Suicidal behaviour

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