AIHW news

Dementia data gaps and opportunities

The article was originally posted on LinkedIn by Richard Juckes, Health Group Head, AIHW.

Dementia Awareness Month is a great opportunity to highlight the longstanding gaps in health and aged care data on dementia. Dementia: data gaps and opportunities addresses the existing gaps and provides future opportunities to improve Australia’s dementia data.

The report builds on two previous comprehensive reports on dementia in Australia (2007 and 2012). Today’s report takes a new look at the dementia data landscape in light of changes in the health and aged care policy and data environments in recent years. It finds that some key data gaps persist—in particular, a lack of data on the diagnosis and management of dementia by GPs and other medical specialists; and that the My Aged Care system introduced in 2015 will begin to deliver the data needed to support analysis of older Australians assessed care needs.

Major gaps in dementia data exist for a multitude of reasons, including:

  • A lack of national GP and specialist data collections that include patients’ health conditions.
  •  Limitations in current national administrative and survey data.
  • Limited data on groups of interest and broader initiatives.

Unlike other leading chronic conditions in Australia, there is no national approach for monitoring and reporting dementia. Today’s report encourages the establishment of a national dementia data framework and an aged care data improvement plan to assist with closing key data gaps, which will help improve the policymaking and provision of services for people with dementia. The report also highlights the benefits of linking key datasets to improve the accuracy of dementia reporting.

Earlier this year, linked data were used for our report examining the health services usage of people with dementia in their last year of life, with significant implications for Australia’s health and aged care systems.

Congratulations to all the teams’ efforts in producing today’s report. We will continue to support current and future efforts towards a fit-for-purpose Australian dementia evidence base.

This report is part of the AIHW’s Monitoring Dementia in Australia project commissioned by the Department of Health in June 2019.

Stay tuned for the AIHW’s third compendium on this major public health issue, to be released in 2021. For more information on dementia in Australia, check out Dementia - Overview and Dementia - Snapshot

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