Analyses were then undertaken to explore the extent of broadly–defined interdisciplinary care. This required a distinction to be made between which item combinations would be considered interdisciplinary care and, conversely, which would be considered mono–disciplinary care. Monodisciplinary care was considered to include those item combinations that involved services provided by a GP only. All other combinations were regarded as indicating interdisciplinary care. As can be seen from table 7.1 and table 7.2, this latter group includes item combinations that represent only allied health professional items or only consultant psychiatrist items. It was considered that, as these services require referral from a GP or another specialist such as a paediatrician, they should be regarded as interdisciplinary care even though those referrals are not represented in the Better Access dataset. Expressed another way, the classification of interdisciplinary care could be regarded as an indicator of specialist care (vs. primary care only). These groupings are quantified in table 7.3, which shows that 44.9% of persons who received Better Access services received services from a GP only, and 55.1% received interdisciplinary Better Access care.

Table 7.4 provides a profile of the receipt of interdisciplinary Better Access care, operationalised as above, according to age, gender, region and socio–economic status. The rates were calculated using the 2008 population as the denominator, and assume that the population remained constant over the period of observation. The rates are therefore a cumulative rate for the 29 months covered by the period included in the December 2006 quarter to the March 2009 quarter. The table shows that:

  • The cumulative rate of any Better Access care over was 72.0 per 1,000 total population. The cumulative rate of interdisciplinary Better Access care over the same period was 39.7 per 1,000 total population.

  • The percentage of Better Access consumers receiving interdisciplinary care was highest among young people aged less than 15 years (71.1% of Better Access consumers in this age group, 28.9% higher than for Better Access consumers overall).

  • The percentage of Better Access consumers receiving interdisciplinary care was lowest among young people aged 65 years and over (44.0% of Better Access consumers in this age group, 20.2% lower than for Better Access consumers overall).

  • The percentage of Better Access users receiving interdisciplinary care was equal for males and females.

  • The percentage of Better Access users receiving interdisciplinary care decreased as remoteness increased. For people in other rural areas, the percentage was 46.8% (15.1% lower than for Better Access consumers overall), and for people in remote areas it was 33.2% (39.9% lower than for Better Access consumers overall). However it should be noted that some consumers, particularly those people in nonmetropolitan areas, may be receiving psychological services via the ATAPS program (which are not recorded by Medicare).

  • The proportion of Better Access users receiving interdisciplinary care decreased as level of socio–economic disadvantage increased. For people in the least disadvantaged areas, the percentage was 62.5% (13.4% higher than for Better Access consumers overall), whereas for people the most disadvantaged areas it was 48.0% (12.9% lower than for Better Access consumers overall).
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Table 7.3 Summary of interdisciplinary care groupings, as represented in the Better Access data, December 2006 quarter to March 2009 quarter

Total persons (N)% of total personsTotal services used (N)% of total services used
Services provided by a GP alone
699,424
44.9
1,291,330
16.8
Services provided by a GP plus an allied health professional or psychiatrist
716,588
46.8
6,059,332
78.9
Services provided by an allied health professional or psychiatrist (but no GP)
143,320
9.2
327,617
4.3
Total
1,559,332
7,678,279

Data have regard to all claims processed up to and including 30 April 2009.

Table 7.4 Cumulative rates of interdisciplinary care and all Better Access care, December 2006 quarter to March 2009 quarter.

Interdisciplinary Better Access care
N persons
Interdisciplinary Better Access care
% of persons
Interdisciplinary Better Access care
Rate (per 1,000)
Any Better Access care
N persons
Any Better Access care
% of persons
Any Better Access care
Rate (per 1,000)
Percentage of Better Access users receiving interdisciplinary care
Age group - 0-14 years
70,914
8.3
17.2
99,777
6.5
24.2
71.1
Age group - 15-24 years
124,481
14.6
41.5
234,387
15.2
78.2
53.1
Age group - 25-34 years
172,781
20.3
57.9
314,036
20.3
105.2
55.0
Age group - 35-44 years
191,418
22.5
61.5
340,578
22.1
109.4
56.2
Age group - 45-54 years
150,857
17.7
51.0
272,486
17.7
92.1
55.4
Age group - 55-64 years
91,511
10.8
37.9
170,632
11.1
70.7
53.6
Age group - 65+ years
49,029
5.8
17.3
111,445
7.2
39.4
44.0
Gender - Male
319,468
37.5
30.0
576,600
37.4
54.1
55.4
Gender - Female
531,523
62.5
49.4
966,741
62.6
89.8
55.0
Regiona - Capital cities
590,255
69.4
43.3
1,023,271
66.3
75.1
57.7
Regiona - Other metropolitan centres
76,702
9.0
43.8
137,464
8.9
78.5
55.8
Regiona - Rural centres
103,094
12.1
37.0
205,111
13.3
73.5
50.3
Regiona - Other rural areas
75,486
8.9
28.2
162,130
10.5
60.3
26.8
Regiona - Remote areas
5,094
0.6
9.1
15,365
1.0
27.4
33.2
SE disadvantageb - Quintile 5 (Least)
263,767
31.0
48.0
421,725
27.3
76.7
62.5
SE disadvantageb - Quintile 4
194,036
22.8
42.1
337,697
21.9
73.3
57.5
SE disadvantageb - Quintile 3
164,931
19.4
37.6
314,645
20.4
71.7
52.4
SE disadvantageb - Quintile 2
130,975
15.4
34.9
266,641
17.3
71.0
49.1
SE disadvantageb - Quintile 1 (Most)
97,282
11.4
30.7
202,533
13.1
63.9
48.0
All Better Access itemsc
850,991
100.0
39.7
1,543,341
100.0
72.0
55.1

Data have regard to all claims processed up to and including 30 April 2009.Rates are crude rates.
a Region based on RRMA classification.
b Socio–economic disadvantage based on IRSD classification.
c Total persons includes only individuals with data available on all socio–demographic characteristics, and thus may differ from the totals shown in table 7.1 and table 7.2.