Breast cancer is the most common cancer, and second most common cause of cancer-related death, in Australian women. In 2015, 16,852 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and in 2016 there were 2,976 deaths from this disease (AIHW 2018).

A national screening program introduced in Australia in 1991—BreastScreen Australia—aims to reduce illness and death resulting from breast cancer. This is achieved through organised screening to detect cases of unsuspected breast cancer in women, thus enabling early intervention.

Critical to the success of BreastScreen Australia is the ability to measure quality, performance and outcomes to inform a continuous quality improvement approach to breast cancer screening in Australia. This relies on the collection of accurate and consistently defined data for every episode of care for every woman screened.

Services accredited under BreastScreen Australia are expected to operate according to National Accreditation Standards (NAS) covering access and participation, cancer detection, assessment, timeliness, data management and information systems, client focus, and governance and management.

Standardised and comparable data are also provided annually to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) for monitoring and evaluation of BreastScreen Australia performance against agreed performance indicators in the AIHW’s BreastScreen Australia monitoring report series.

The BreastScreen Australia data dictionary is intended to be the authoritative source of data definitions used by BreastScreen Australia to meet the need for national consistency in data collected for program monitoring and evaluation, and for accreditation of BreastScreen Australia services. To fulfil this role, it includes metadata standards to support data collected at every episode of care for every woman screened, and data specifications for NAS Measures required for accreditation of BreastScreen Australia services, as well as data specifications for performance indicators used to monitor BreastScreen Australia.