12: Comorbidities in people with dementia
Comorbidities (co-existing health conditions) are common in people with dementia, but data on comorbidities are not currently accessible on a large scale for analysis. There are several administrative data sources which capture some data on comorbidities but generally only if the comorbidity affected service provision or for deaths data if it contributed to the cause of death.
Understanding comorbidities is important because the presence of comorbidities in people with dementia increases the complexity in managing their co-existing condition/s as well as their dementia. Certain health conditions can also be risk factors for developing dementia and impact its progression.
Proposed data improvement activity
The main activity proposed to improve data on comorbidities among people with dementia in national data collections is to:
- examine comorbidities among people living with dementia using linked data.
Below provides information on the intended outcome, priority rating, level of investment required, timeframe for completion and who is responsible for undertaking for the activity.
However, there are several other activities in this plan that would also improve data on comorbidities in people with dementia. These include:
- ensure dementia data are consistently collected in core data sets (Activity 5a detailed under Dementia type).
- incorporate dementia data in enduring national linked data sets to meet the needs of dementia monitoring (Activity 3a detailed under Dementia prevalence and incidence).
- assess new self-reported dementia data in the 2021 Census (Activity 3d detailed under Dementia prevalence and incidence).
This activity involves undertaking analysis of comorbidities in people with dementia using data available in enduring linked data sets and exploring demographic characteristics by health condition status. Analysis could focus on issues such as: specific comorbidities (for example, diabetes or cardiovascular conditions), changes in common comorbidities as dementia progresses, or characteristics of hospital stays in people with comorbidities (including expenditure). This may include how comorbidities among people living with dementia are changing over time, how other co-morbid conditions impact the onset and progression of dementia, and how this impacts patterns of health and aged care service use by people living with dementia.
This activity could explore other opportunities for comorbidity analysis in priority populations, for example, in the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP) (using dementia identifiers as described in Activity 8c), the 45 and Up Study and other relevant data sources.
Outcome: Increased data on comorbidities among people living with dementia including impacts on people living with dementia and impacts on health and aged care systems.
|Priority Group Data
- Alignment: moderately important data gap
- Foundational data: method development
- Dependencies: on linked data and some external data sources
- Priority group reporting: likely
Level of investment: Low
Timeframe: Short term (<2 years)
Responsible stakeholder: AIHW National Centre for Monitoring Dementia