One of the key sources of information on alcohol and other drug treatment services is the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS). Publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services provide information on treatment episodes for the AODTS NMDS and the National Drug Strategy 2010-2015 auspices this data collection. The collection began in 2000 and these data have been used to inform state, territory and Australian government policies, a broad range of research activities and treatment service provision.

State, territory and Australian government stakeholders have approved enhancements to the collection, so from 2014 we will provide valuable information for higher quality and more targeted treatment services by:

  • counting the number of people accessing alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia
  • exploring patterns of drug treatment people receive
  • analysing pathways of clients through treatment.

Counting clients

In 2012-13, a statistical linkage key was introduced into the AODTS NMDS. This linkage key enables the number of clients receiving treatment to be counted while continuing to ensure the privacy of these individuals receiving treatment. Due to anticipated levels of data quality and completeness, the number of clients will be initially estimated using a simple deterministic method. The possibility of including extra data items in the collection will be explored which may lead to a more sophisticated method being adopted in the future.

New analyses

With the introduction of the statistical linkage key, a number of client-based analyses will be possible including:

  • estimating the number and rate of clients receiving treatment and the remoteness and socioeconomic distribution of the client in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 annual reports (available mid-2014 and mid-2015, respectively)
  • more complex analyses on patterns of drug use and pathways through treatment, as data with unique client counts accumulate over time
  • longitudinal analysis to give valuable information on the characteristics of different
  • client groups, for example, those who return to treatment over many years with multiple drugs of concern or treatment types.

Data development

Some analyses described in this report either require, or would be improved by, future data development activities for this collection. These activities will be considered in the context of other possible improvements to data collection to support service planning, policy and evidence priorities as well as available resourcing.