Health is ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ (World Health Organization 1946). It encompasses many important aspects of a person’s life, including their physical condition, emotional state, social relationships and overall quality of life. 

There is a close relationship between people’s health and their living circumstances, and many factors interact to influence a person’s health outcomes. These include socioeconomic and environmental conditions, cultural factors, health behaviours, biological factors, genetics, and social and community networks.

The health information landscape in Australia comprises data collected about health-care practice, health status, the health system – and about the people who provide health services. High-quality information supports a sound understanding of health behaviours, health care and outcomes, and can identify possible areas for improvement.

Overall, health is a complex feature of life that matters to all people.

This report – Australia’s health 2024: data insights – examines issues related to the health of Australians, the health system and the data supporting our understanding of these things. It contains 11 original articles on important health topics and their information environments.

Each article highlights the crucial role of high-quality data in understanding and improving the health of Australians.

Australia’s health data landscape

This article examines Australia’s data environment in terms of understanding the population’s health and the health system.

Australia’s dental data landscapeThis article describes the state of dental data in Australia. It examines how data on the oral health of Australians and their use of dental services are currently collected and translated into actionable information. It explores barriers to collecting and using dental data and opportunities to strengthen the evidence base.
Concussions in Australia over the last decadeMost concussion hospitalisations in Australia are linked to falls, transport crashes or assault. This article analyses the causes, nature and severity of reported concussions in Australia.
Electronic cigarette use (vaping) in Australia in 2022–2023This article reports on the prevalence of e-cigarette use in Australia and examines the reasons for vaping in the general population.
Enhancing communicable disease monitoring in Australia through data linkageThis article describes the data sharing arrangements and technical processes required to effectively monitor communicable diseases. It reports on the development of the AIHW’s COVID-19 Register – a linked data asset designed to improve understanding about the health outcomes and health service use of people diagnosed with COVID-19.
Extreme weather related injuries in Australia over the last decadeIn Australia, extreme heat causes more hospitalisations than other extreme weather events (that is, bushfires, storms and extreme cold). This article reports on the frequency and type of injuries linked to these weather events.
Improving Australia’s dementia data for national action

The impact of dementia on the lives of Australians is increasing, but Australia still has some major data gaps on dementia. This article explores these gaps, and the activities underway to rectify them.

The ongoing challenge of chronic conditions in Australia

Over 90% of Australia’s non-fatal burden of disease is related to chronic conditions (also known as long-term health conditions). This article examines the nature and type of chronic conditions in Australia and the current and future challenges they present.

Size and sources of the health gap for Australia’s First Nations people 2017–2019A large part of the ‘health gap’ between First Nations and non-Indigenous people can be attributed to differences in the social determinants of these 2 groups (such as employment status, income and level of education) and health risk factors (such as smoking). To close the ‘health gap’, these differences must be resolved.
Use of Medicare services and pharmaceuticals by mental health patients in Australia over the last decadeThis article provides an overview of mental health patients who accessed mental health and non-mental health services provided through the Medicare Benefits Schedule and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule. It examines how patient profiles and use patterns changed between 2012 and 2021.
Using nowcasting and projections for statistical understandings in health

The most recent data contained in some national collections can be several years old. This article discusses how providing projections to the current period (nowcasting) and projections for future periods can provide statistical health understandings about today and beyond.