Atrial fibrillation data development areas

In Australia, the prevalence of non-hospitalised AF in the general population is largely unknown, and is not captured within currently available population health survey data.

There are a number of data development areas that will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of AF in Australia. These areas include the collection and reporting of AF across primary care, especially general practice and other settings, and the use of linked health services data.

Primary care data

Data on the management of AF in the general practice setting provides important information about people with AF diagnosed and managed in all settings including solely in the primary care setting. Ongoing and more detailed reporting, along with linkage to hospital, death and other administrative data will expand the capacity of primary care data sources to contribute to AF monitoring. Research projects are currently underway in this area.   

General practice data can also provide a fuller picture of the associated comorbidities of patients with AF and their overall management.

Linked health services data

Analysis of linked hospitals data can provide important information about AF hospitalisation trends that cannot be determined from unlinked data, including the identification of repeat or first time hospitalisation.

Analysis of AF in linked hospitals data has occurred in Western Australia and this has improved understanding of hospitalisations at a person level (Briffa et al. 2016; Weber et al. 2019).

The National Integrated Health Services Information (NIHSI) Analysis Asset (AA) (NIHSI-AA), a national linked data analysis resource combining data from multiple AIHW-held health information sources, provides a future opportunity to explore AF hospitalisation trends for additional state and territory jurisdictions.


Briffa T, Hung J, Knuiman M, McQuillan B, Chew DP, Eikelboom J et al. 2016. Trends in incidence and prevalence of hospitalization for atrial fibrillation and associated mortality in Western Australia, 1995–2010. International Journal of Cardiology 208:19–25.

Weber C, Hung J, Hickling S, Li I, McQuillan B & Briffa T 2019. Drivers of hospitalisation trends for non-valvular atrial fibrillation in Western Australia, 2000–2013. International Journal of Cardiology 276:273–7.