Data source

Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health survey (BEACH)

The BEACH surveys of general practice activity were conducted by the Family Medicine Research Centre at the University of Sydney from 1998 to 2016. The 2015–16 BEACH data collection is the last BEACH survey to be conducted.

For each year’s data collection, each of a random sample of about 1,000 general practitioners (GPs) report details of 100 consecutive patient encounters on structured patient encounter forms. Each form collects information about the consultation (for example, date and item number(s) charged), the patient (for example, date of birth, sex, and demographics), the problems managed and the management of each problem (for example, clinical and procedural treatments provided, prescriptions and referrals). GP and practice characteristics (for example, GP age, sex and geographical location). Data on patient risk factors, such as height, weight, alcohol consumption and smoking status, are also collected for a subset of the patient encounter forms.

The BEACH data presented for 2015–16 relates to 96,500 GP encounters from a sample of 965 GPs over the period from April 2015 to March 2016, inclusive. After post-stratification weighting (to ensure that national general practice activity patterns are reflected) the data include 97,398 (weighted) encounters (Britt et al. 2016).

Additional information on the 2015–16 BEACH survey can be obtained from General practice activity in Australia 2015–16 (Britt et al. 2016).

For the purpose of this report, mental health-related GP encounters are defined as those where a mental health-related problem was managed. Mental health-related problems are those that are classified in the psychological chapter (that is, the ‘P’ chapter) of the International Classification of Primary Care, 2nd edition (ICPC-2). For more detailed information, refer to the online technical information.

Medicare Benefits Schedule data

The Department of Human Services collects data on the activity of all persons making claims through the Medicare Benefits Schedule and provides this information to the Department of Health. Information collected includes the type of service provided (MBS item number) and the benefit paid by Medicare for the service. For this legacy analysis, the item numbers and benefits paid by Medicare are based on the Medicare benefits schedule book  (DoH 2015). Services that are not included in the MBS are not included in the data. The list of all MBS items that have been defined as mental health‑specific are available in the data source section of Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services section.


Britt H, Miller GC, Henderson J, Bayram C, Harrison C, Valenti L et al. 2016. General practice activity in Australia 2015–16. General practice series no. 40. Sydney: Sydney University Press.

Department of Health (DoH) 2015. Medicare Benefits Schedule Book, effective 1 January 2015. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.