Results from analysis of the Mental Health Services-Census-Mortality Integrated Dataset provide new insights into mortality amongst persons who accessed MBS subsidised mental health-related services and PBS subsidised mental health-related medications in Australia and will assist in informing mental health policy and programs.
A number of potential enhancements were identified during the course of the project. Implementation of the following options would improve understanding of the existing data and create opportunities for a wider scope of analysis, further maximising the value of existing public sector data for policy analysis, research, and statistical purposes:
- Given the wider scope of Australia's mental health system than MBS subsidised mental health-related services and PBS subsidised mental health-related prescription medications, the potential inclusion of other sources of data beyond those recorded on the MBS and PBS, such as information on state and territory mental health-related services, would assist in providing a more complete picture of the provision of mental health-related services in Australia
- The inclusion in the dataset of a greater breadth of treatments listed on the MBS and PBS would facilitate greater understanding of the relationships between co-existing physical and mental health conditions
- The inclusion of more years of information from the source datasets (MBS, PBS and death registrations) would allow for longitudinal analysis as well as more cross-sectional analyses over time, while providing more detailed and reliable information on sequences and histories of treatments over a longer period. This would also address data quality issues associated with the existing dataset such as the potentially incomplete treatment histories for some people whose deaths occurred later in 2011-12 (and who may have accessed mental health-related treatments in 2012 which were not in scope of the existing dataset)
- The addition of data from population surveys (for example, the ABS National Health Survey) would provide information on whether a person has been diagnosed with a mental health condition (and physical health conditions) as well as provide information on associated topics of relevance such as behavioural risk factors (e.g. smoking status).
Despite complexities associated with creating and analysing the dataset, results show a strong pattern of differences in mortality outcomes between persons who accessed MBS and PBS subsidised mental health-related treatments compared with the Australian population overall.