Primary care access for mental illness in Australia: Patterns of access to general practice from 2006 to 2016 Journal Articles uri icon

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  • General practice has an important role within the Australian healthcare system to provide access to care and effective management of chronic health conditions. However, people with serious mental illness experience challenges associated with service access. The current paper seeks to examine drivers of access to general practice for people with common and serious mental disorders, compared with people who access care for type II diabetes, a common physical health problem managed in general practice. The Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) programme provides the most comprehensive and objective measurement of general practitioner activity in Australia. Using BEACH data, this study compared general practice encounters for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and type II diabetes during a 10-year period between 2006 and 2016. Analysis revealed more frequent encounters for depression compared to anxiety, and a higher representation of women in encounters for bipolar disorder compared to men. The relationship between number of encounters and patient age was strongly associated with the life course and mortality characteristics associated with each disorder. The findings highlight specific challenges associated with access to primary care for people with serious mental illness, and suggest areas of focus to improve the ability of these patients to access and navigate the health system.


  • Walker, Jennifer
  • Farrer, Louise M
  • Walker, Jennie
  • Harrison, Christopher
  • Banfield, Michelle

publication date

  • 2018