Data sources

This project uses the National Integrated Health Services Information data asset (NIHSI), a multi-source, enduring linked data asset that contains de-identified healthcare, residential aged care, and mortality data. The NIHSI is maintained by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and is available for approved projects.

The NIHSI updates annually. This study used NIHSI Version 2.0 (2010–11 to 2019–20), the most recent version available at the time of analysis. 

This includes data from:

  • the National Death Index (NDI)
  • Hospital admitted patient care (APC) services in all public hospitals for participating states and territories (excludes Western Australia (WA) and the Northern Territory (NT)) and private hospital data for Queensland (QLD)
  • Hospital emergency department (ED) services in public hospitals for all participating states and territories (excludes WA and NT)
  • Outpatient non-admitted patient (NAP) services in public hospitals for all participating states and territories (excludes WA, NT, and South Australia (SA)) from 2016
  • Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS)
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS)
  • Residential Aged Care (including permanent residential aged care and/or respite care). 

Due to data availability and limitations, NIHSI does not capture all palliative care activity in Australia. For example:

  • Hospital data is not available for all jurisdictions. WA and NT did not provide hospital data for inclusion in NIHSI Version 2.0. Furthermore, most jurisdictions do not provide data for private hospitals. To ensure accurate comparisons, analysis excluded people residing in WA and the NT due to a lack of data. Private hospitals were also omitted as data were only available for QLD in the observation period.
  • Patients in specialised palliative care units or hospices in private hospitals/facilities are not included. Note, while patients in specialised palliative care units/hospices within public hospitals are included in the analysis it is not possible to identify in the data whether they received care.
  • All settings or services providing care to people with life-limiting illnesses, such as community health and allied health (for example, care provided in the home, or by ambulance, disability, or aged care services) are not captured through MBS items.