While there is a lack of robust data on dementia-specific GP and community-based specialist services in Australia, the following data sources provide some insight on dementia-specific GP consultations:
- Bettering Evaluation of Care and Health survey (BEACH) was an annual survey of around 100,000 patient encounters across 1,000 GPs nationwide. BEACH collected information on reasons for GP encounters, types of prescriptions, referrals, imaging and pathology requests made during the encounter, and associated diagnoses. BEACH ran between April 1998 and April 2016 (The University of Sydney 2017):
- Between 2006–07 and 2015–16, the rate of GP encounters for dementia remained stable, at around 0.5 per 100 encounters.
- Dementia was considered a new problem to manage in 11% of patients who had a GP encounter for dementia in 2015–16 (which includes the first presentation of a recurrence of a previously resolved problem but not the presentation of a problem first assessed by another provider) (Britt et al. 2016).
- NPS MedicineWise General Practice Insights report includes information on general practice activity in Australia. At the time of writing, the most recent report includes data from 569 general practices and over 14.7 million clinical encounters between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019, comprising 9% of GPs and 13% of Australian patients who saw a GP at least once in 2018–19. According to the Insights report, in 2018–19:
- 0.6% of all patients and 3.4% of patients aged 65 or over had a dementia diagnosis.
- Dementia was evident in 6.8% of patients aged 80–89 and 12.6% of patients aged 90 and over – this rate is much lower than the estimated rate of dementia in Australians aged 80–89 (15.6%) and aged 90 and over (39.9%). Refer to Prevalence of dementia for more information.
- The rate of dementia was similar among men and women, except for patients aged 80 and over, where it was more common among women than men.
- On average, patients with dementia had 15 clinical encounters in 2018–19, accounting for 1.6 per 100 GP clinical encounters – higher than what was reported from BEACH in 2015–16 (0.5 per 100 encounters) (NPS MedicineWise 2020).