This chapter presents findings relating to Evaluation Question 5: To what extent has the Better Access initiative provided interdisciplinary primary mental health care for people with mental disorders? Specifically, it explores rates of uptake and service use of various combinations of MBS–subsidised Better Access items for the total Australian population, and for key subgroups.

The question of the extent to which the Better Access initiative has provided interdisciplinary primary mental health care for people with mental disorders can only be partially addressed using MBS data. Certain MBS item numbers are quite prescriptive about the involvement of providers. For example, the psychologist item numbers all require a referral from a GP, but it is beyond the scope of the MBS data to determine the nature of the interactions between different providers. There is, however, scope for determining whether particular individuals are receiving care from more than one provider (e.g., a psychologist and a psychiatrist), and to explore these patterns by rurality, age group, sex and socio–economic disadvantage. Nonetheless, it will be difficult to draw definitive conclusions about whether the care they are providing is collaborative and co–ordinated.

Interdisciplinary care was examined via the following research questions:

  1. What is the distribution of uptake and service use across different combinations of MBS Better Access items?

  2. Do patterns of interdisciplinary care vary according to socio–demographic characteristics?