4329.0.00.003 - Patterns of Use of Mental Health Services and Prescription Medications, 2011  
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PRIMARY HEALTH NETWORKS

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are geographic administrative regions which were established in July 2015 by the Australian Government with the key objectives of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes, and to help improve the coordination of care to ensure patients receive appropriate care[1]. Geographic boundaries of PHNs are available at Primary Health Networks.

Rates of use of MBS and PBS subsidised mental health-related treatments vary across regions of Australia. Around one in five people (19.8%) living in North Coast NSW used at least one MBS subsidised mental health-related service or PBS subsidised mental health-related medication in 2011, the highest proportion of any PHN in Australia. Gippsland (18.3%) and Grampians and Barwon South West (17.8%) recorded the second and third highest rates of use of mental health-related services or medications in 2011.

People living in Northern Sydney who had at least one MBS subsidised mental health-related service in 2011 used an average of 6.6 mental health-related services during the year, compared with an average of 5.2 services for all people in Australia who had at least one MBS subsidised mental health-related service in 2011. People living in Central and Eastern Sydney who had at least one MBS subsidised mental health-related service in 2011 used an average of 6.3 mental health-related services during the year, followed by Eastern Melbourne (6.2 services).

People living in Grampians and Barwon South West who accessed at least one PBS subsidised mental health-related medication in 2011 had an average of 10.1 mental health-related prescriptions filled during the year, compared with an average of 9.4 prescriptions for all people in Australia who accessed at least one PBS subsidised mental health-related medication in 2011. People living in Gippsland who accessed at least one PBS subsidised mental health-related medication in 2011 had an average of 10.0 mental health-related prescriptions filled during the year, followed by Darling Downs and West Moreton (9.9 prescriptions).

Detailed information on socio-demographic characteristics of people who used MBS and PBS mental health-related services and medications in 2011 for each PHN in Australia is available from Datacube Tables 3 to 10 of Characteristics of People using Mental Health Services and Prescription Medication, 2011 (cat. no. 4329.0). Information for each PHN on the numbers of people who had mental health-related consultations and prescriptions filled in 2011 is available from Datacube Table 6 of this publication.

The following data quality issues should be considered when interpreting regional data:

  • variations in use between PHNs may be due to a number of reasons:
    • MBS subsidised services may not be as readily available in some PHNs than others;
    • alternative sources of services may be preferred in some PHNs (e.g. community based treatment programs);
    • different characteristics of people living in particular PHNs; for example, higher use of medications and lower use of services is associated with increasing age, which may be reflected in PHNs with older age profiles;
  • data for PHNs with a significant proportion of population in Remote and/or Very Remote areas are not representative of services and medications use. Block funding of Aboriginal Medical Services and provision of drugs under options such as Section 100 of the National Health Act, 1953 may lead to a gap in MBS and PBS data in these areas;
  • linkage rates achieved for the Mental Health Services-Census Integrated Dataset were in line with expected results, and were relatively consistent across most sub-populations, with the exception of the Northern Territory, Remote and Very Remote areas, and younger adults which had lower linkage rates (see the Explanatory for information on linkage rates).


ENDNOTES

1. Department of Health, 2015, Primary Health Networks (PHNs), <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/primary_health_networks>, last accessed 18/03/2016.