Healthy Communities: GP care for patients with chronic conditions in 2009–2013 - Report - Key findings: GP care for patients with depression and anxiety

Healthy Communities: GP care for patients with chronic conditions in 2009–2013

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Key findings: GP care for patients with depression and anxiety

One in six Australians had a diagnosed mental health condition including depression (10%) and anxiety (6%) in 2008–09.14

Among all people who visit the GP at least once in a year, the percentage of people who had depression, anxiety or both of these conditions ranged from 16% to 18% in metropolitan communities to 13% to 20% in regional and rural communities (Figure 8).

The percentage of all GP consultations that involved patients who had depression, anxiety or both these conditions, irrespective of whether the condition was managed, ranged slightly from 18% to 21% in metropolitan, 20% to 23% in regional and 15% to 18% in rural communities (Figure 9).

GPs manage depression or anxiety in about one-third of all consultations with these patients. Across local areas, the proportion of all GP consultations in which depression or anxiety was actively managed ranged from one in 25 (4%) consultations in Sydney North Shore & Beaches compared to one in 11 (9%) consultations in Frankston-Mornington Peninsula (Vic) and Hume (Vic/NSW) (Figure 10b).

GP actions in the management of depression or anxiety also varied across local areas, which illustrates the diverse approaches to managing these conditions and may reflect the availability of allied health professionals and specialists (Figure 11).

Depending on where a GP practises, a psychotropic medication (such as an antidepressant, antipsychotic or sedative) was prescribed on 38% of GP management occasions for depression or anxiety in Northern Sydney compared to 74% in Hume (Vic/NSW).

Across local areas, GP counselling was provided on 25% of GP management occasions for depression or anxiety in Southern NSW compared to 51% in Southern Adelaide-Fleurieu-Kangaroo Island.

Across local areas, a referral to another health professional was provided on 11% of GP management occasions for depression or anxiety in Southern Adelaide-Fleurieu-Kangaroo Island and Central Adelaide & Hills compared to 21% in Eastern Sydney (Figure 11).

There were also notable differences between similar local areas that are within the same peer group, after accounting for geographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

Figure 8: Percentage of people who visit the GP at least once in a year who had depression, anxiety or both of these conditions*, by Medicare Local catchment peer group, 2005–2013

Peer groups Percentage of patients
Metro 1 16% (CI: 15%–18%)
Metro 2 17% (CI: 15%–19%)
Metro 3 18% (CI: 16%–20%)
Regional 1 18% (CI: 16%–20%)
Regional 2 20% (CI: 19%–22%)
Rural 1 15% (CI: 12%–18%)
Rural 2 13% (CI: 10%–16%)
Figure 9: Percentage of GP consultations with patients who had depression, anxiety or both of these conditions*, by Medicare Local catchment peer group, 2005–2013

Peer groups Percentage of GP consultations
Metro 1 18% (CI: 16%–20%)
Metro 2 19% (CI: 17%–20%)
Metro 3 21% (CI: 19%–23%)
Regional 1 20% (CI: 18%–23%)
Regional 2 23% (CI: 21%–25%)
Rural 1 18% (CI: 14%–22%)
Rural 2 15% (CI: 12%–19%)
Figure 10a: Percentage of GP consultations in which depression or anxiety* was managed, by Medicare Local catchment peer group, 2009–2013

Peer groups Percentage of GP consultations
Metro 1 6% (CI: 6%–7%)
Metro 2 7% (CI: 6%–7%)
Metro 3 6% (CI: 6%–6%)
Regional 1 7% (CI: 7%–7%)
Regional 2 7% (CI: 7%–7%)
Rural 1 6% (CI: 5%–6%)
Rural 2 6% (CI: 5%–7%)
Figure 10b: Percentage of GP consultations in which depression or anxiety* was managed, by Medicare Local catchment, 2009–2013

Medicare Local catchments grouped by peer group Percentage of GP consultations
Metro 16% (CI: 6%–7%)
Inner NW Melbourne8% (CI: 8%–9%)
Bayside (Vic)7% (CI: 6%–8%)
Inner East Melbourne7% (CI: 6%–8%)
Eastern Sydney7% (CI: 6%–8%)
Australian Capital Territory6% (CI: 5%–8%)
Inner West Sydney6% (CI: 5%–6%)
Northern Sydney6% (CI: 5%–7%)
Sydney Nth Shore & Beaches4% (CI: 4%–5%)
Metro 27% (CI: 6%–7%)
Perth Central & East Metro8% (CI: 7%–9%)
Sthn Adelaide-Fleurieu-Kang. Is.8% (CI: 7%–9%)
Eastern Melbourne8% (CI: 7%–9%)
Fremantle (WA)8% (CI: 6%–9%)
South Western Melbourne7% (CI: 5%–9%)
Perth North Metro7% (CI: 6%–8%)
Metro North Brisbane7% (CI: 6%–8%)
Gold Coast (Qld)7% (CI: 6%–8%)
Bentley-Armadale (WA)6% (CI: 5%–7%)
South Eastern Sydney6% (CI: 5%–7%)
Central Adelaide & Hills5% (CI: 5%–6%)
Greater Metro South Brisbane5% (CI: 5%–6%)
Metro 36% (CI: 6%–6%)
Northern Adelaide8% (CI: 7%–10%)
Northern Melbourne8% (CI: 7%–9%)
Macedon Ranges & NW Melbourne7% (CI: 5%–8%)
South Eastern Melbourne6% (CI: 5%–7%)
West Moreton-Oxley (Qld)6% (CI: 5%–7%)
Western Sydney5% (CI: 5%–6%)
South Western Sydney5% (CI: 4%–5%)
Regional 17% (CI: 7%–7%)
Frankston-Mornington Peninsula (Vic)9% (CI: 8%–11%)
Perth South Coastal8% (CI: 6%–10%)
Nepean-Blue Mountains (NSW)7% (CI: 6%–8%)
Hunter (NSW)7% (CI: 6%–8%)
Illawarra-Shoalhaven (NSW)7% (CI: 6%–8%)
Barwon (Vic)7% (CI: 5%–8%)
Sunshine Coast (Qld)7% (CI: 6%–8%)
Central Coast NSW6% (CI: 5%–7%)
Regional 27% (CI: 7%–7%)
Hume (Vic/NSW)9% (CI: 6%–11%)
Tasmania8% (CI: 7%–9%)
Great South Coast (Vic)8% (CI: 5%–10%)
North Coast NSW7% (CI: 7%–8%)
Grampians (Vic)7% (CI: 6%–9%)
Loddon-Mallee-Murray (Vic/NSW)7% (CI: 5%–10%)
Gippsland (Vic)7% (CI: 6%–8%)
South West WA7% (CI: 6%–8%)
Goulburn Valley (Vic)6% (CI: 5%–8%)
Southern NSW6% (CI: 5%–8%)
Wide Bay (Qld)6% (CI: 5%–8%)
Darling Downs-SW Qld6% (CI: 5%–7%)
Western NSW6% (CI: 5%–7%)
New England (NSW)6% (CI: 4%–7%)
Murrumbidgee (NSW)5% (CI: 4%–6%)
Country South SANP
Rural 16% (CI: 5%–6%)
Townsville-Mackay (Qld)6% (CI: 5%–7%)
Central Qld6% (CI: 4%–7%)
Country North SA5% (CI: 4%–7%)
Far West NSWNP
Lower Murray (Vic/NSW)NP
Rural 26% (CI: 5%–7%)
Northern Territory7% (CI: 5%–10%)
Far North Qld6% (CI: 5%–7%)
Central & NW QldNP
Goldfields-Midwest (WA)NP
Kimberley-Pilbara (WA)NP

95% confidence interval.

* Results comprise patients who are recorded by the GP as having been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or both of these conditions.

Customised analysis of BEACH SAND substudy data (2005–2013) weighted to the attending population using Department of Human Services, Medicare Benefits statistics, 12 months ending June 2013.

# Interpret with caution.

NP Not available for publication.

Notes: Data are reported as whole numbers. However, for graphical display and ordering they are plotted unrounded. Data are collected from a national survey of GPs. Characteristics of participating GPs may differ from non-participating GPs in a Medicare Local catchment which may affect the generalisability of results. For data limitations and exclusions see this report’s Technical Supplement.

Sources: Customised analysis of BEACH dataset (April 2009–March 2013) and BEACH SAND substudy dataset (July 2005–June 2013) prepared for the National Health Performance Authority by the Family Medicine Research Centre, the University of Sydney.

Data can be downloaded from Explore the data.

Figure 11: Percentage of GP management occasions in which psychotropics were prescribed, GP counselling, or a referral to a health professional was provided in the management of depression or anxiety, by Medicare Local catchment, 2009–2013

Medicare Local catchments grouped by peer group Percentage of GP management occasions for depression or anxiety*
Psychotropic prescribed GP counselling Referral
Metro 152% (CI: 49%–54%)39% (CI: 36%–41%)18% (CI: 16%–19%)
Sydney Nth Shore & Beaches59% (CI: 54%–64%)37% (CI: 31%–43%)20% (CI: 16%–24%)
Bayside (Vic)58% (CI: 52%–65%)37% (CI: 30%–45%)15% (CI: 12%–19%)
Australian Capital Territory55% (CI: 49%–60%)41% (CI: 34%–48%)14% (CI: 10%–18%)
Inner West Sydney52% (CI: 47%–57%)35% (CI: 29%–41%)18% (CI: 15%–22%)
Inner East Melbourne51% (CI: 42%–61%)44% (CI: 35%–53%)14% (CI: 11%–18%)
Inner NW Melbourne51% (CI: 46%–56%)40% (CI: 33%–46%)18% (CI: 15%–22%)
Eastern Sydney50% (CI: 44%–56%)35% (CI: 28%–41%)21% (CI: 17%–26%)
Northern Sydney38% (CI: 31%–45%)43% (CI: 35%–50%)20% (CI: 16%–24%)
Metro 259% (CI: 57%–61%)37% (CI: 35%–39%)15% (CI: 14%–16%)
Metro North Brisbane64% (CI: 60%–68%)37% (CI: 32%–43%)16% (CI: 12%–19%)
Perth North Metro63% (CI: 59%–68%)32% (CI: 25%–38%)15% (CI: 11%–20%)
Greater Metro South Brisbane61% (CI: 57%–65%)33% (CI: 27%–38%)15% (CI: 12%–18%)
South Eastern Sydney59% (CI: 51%–68%)36% (CI: 27%–44%)19% (CI: 14%–23%)
Bentley-Armadale (WA)59%# (CI: 52%–65%)31%# (CI: 23%–39%)19%# (CI: 14%–23%)
Fremantle (WA)58%# (CI: 48%–67%)39%# (CI: 28%–49%)15%# (CI: 11%–20%)
Perth Central & East Metro58% (CI: 52%–64%)35% (CI: 28%–42%)15% (CI: 12%–19%)
Sthn Adelaide-Fleurieu-Kang. Is.56% (CI: 48%–63%)51% (CI: 43%–60%)11% (CI: 7%–14%)
Central Adelaide & Hills55% (CI: 50%–61%)41% (CI: 35%–48%)11% (CI: 8%–14%)
Gold Coast (Qld)55% (CI: 49%–61%)31% (CI: 23%–39%)16% (CI: 12%–19%)
Eastern Melbourne53% (CI: 47%–59%)38% (CI: 29%–48%)16% (CI: 11%–21%)
South Western MelbourneNPNPNP
Metro 357% (CI: 55%–60%)39% (CI: 36%–42%)15% (CI: 14%–17%)
Macedon Ranges & NW Melbourne61% (CI: 53%–69%)35% (CI: 26%–44%)16% (CI: 12%–20%)
Northern Adelaide60% (CI: 52%–68%)36% (CI: 25%–48%)12% (CI: 9%–16%)
West Moreton-Oxley (Qld)59%# (CI: 51%–67%)37%# (CI: 29%–45%)19%# (CI: 14%–23%)
South Western Sydney59% (CI: 54%–63%)38% (CI: 32%–44%)17% (CI: 14%–21%)
South Eastern Melbourne57%# (CI: 49%–65%)34%# (CI: 25%–43%)14%# (CI: 9%–19%)
Northern Melbourne57% (CI: 51%–62%)37% (CI: 30%–44%)16% (CI: 13%–20%)
Western Sydney54% (CI: 48%–59%)45% (CI: 39%–52%)14% (CI: 11%–17%)
Regional 161% (CI: 58%–63%)35% (CI: 32%–38%)16% (CI: 14%–17%)
Frankston-Mornington Peninsula (Vic)64%# (CI: 56%–72%)26%# (CI: 18%–34%)16%# (CI: 11%–20%)
Illawarra-Shoalhaven (NSW)64% (CI: 57%–70%)34% (CI: 26%–42%)19% (CI: 14%–23%)
Central Coast NSW63%# (CI: 56%–69%)35%# (CI: 27%–44%)15%# (CI: 10%–19%)
Hunter (NSW)60% (CI: 56%–65%)35% (CI: 29%–42%)15% (CI: 13%–18%)
Sunshine Coast (Qld)58% (CI: 52%–64%)40% (CI: 33%–47%)14% (CI: 11%–17%)
Nepean-Blue Mountains (NSW)58% (CI: 51%–65%)37% (CI: 27%–47%)18% (CI: 13%–22%)
Barwon (Vic)57%# (CI: 49%–64%)34%# (CI: 24%–44%)15%# (CI: 9%–21%)
Perth South CoastalNPNPNP
Regional 263% (CI: 61%–65%)30% (CI: 27%–32%)14% (CI: 13%–15%)
Hume (Vic/NSW)74%# (CI: 66%–82%)26%# (CI: 19%–34%)13%# (CI: 8%–18%)
South West WA68% (CI: 62%–75%)28% (CI: 20%–36%)13% (CI: 10%–17%)
Tasmania66% (CI: 62%–71%)28% (CI: 23%–34%)13% (CI: 10%–15%)
Darling Downs-SW Qld66%# (CI: 60%–72%)34%# (CI: 25%–42%)12%# (CI: 8%–15%)
Southern NSW63%# (CI: 55%–71%)25%# (CI: 16%–34%)12%# (CI: 9%–16%)
North Coast NSW60% (CI: 54%–65%)29% (CI: 23%–36%)17% (CI: 14%–20%)
Western NSW59%# (CI: 51%–68%)33%# (CI: 25%–42%)20%# (CI: 13%–27%)
Gippsland (Vic)58%# (CI: 50%–66%)29%# (CI: 21%–37%)16%# (CI: 12%–21%)
Country South SANPNPNP
Goulburn Valley (Vic)NPNPNP
Grampians (Vic)NPNPNP
Great South Coast (Vic)NPNPNP
Loddon-Mallee-Murray (Vic/NSW)NPNPNP
Murrumbidgee (NSW)NPNPNP
New England (NSW)NPNPNP
Wide Bay (Qld)NPNPNP
Rural 169% (CI: 65%–74%)32% (CI: 26%–37%)14% (CI: 11%–18%)
Townsville-Mackay (Qld)70%# (CI: 63%–78%)36%# (CI: 28%–44%)15%# (CI: 10%–20%)
Central QldNPNPNP
Country North SANPNPNP
Far West NSWNPNPNP
Lower Murray (Vic/NSW)NPNPNP
Rural 255% (CI: 49%–61%)43% (CI: 37%–50%)16% (CI: 12%–19%)
Far North Qld57%# (CI: 49%–65%)47%# (CI: 39%–55%)15%# (CI: 10%–20%)
Central & NW QldNPNPNP
Goldfields-Midwest (WA)NPNPNP
Kimberley-Pilbara (WA)NPNPNP
Northern TerritoryNPNPNP

95% confidence interval.

* Due to the opportunity to have zero, one, two or three management options percentages do not add to 100.

# Interpret with caution.

NP Not available for publication.

Notes: Data are reported as whole numbers. However, for graphical display and ordering they are plotted unrounded. Data are collected from a national survey of GPs. Characteristics of participating GPs may differ from non-participating GPs in a Medicare Local catchment which may affect the generalisability of results. For data limitations and exclusions see this report’s Technical Supplement.

Sources: Customised analysis of BEACH dataset (April 2009–March 2013) and BEACH SAND substudy dataset (July 2005–June 2013) prepared for the National Health Performance Authority by the Family Medicine Research Centre, the University of Sydney.

Data can be downloaded from Explore the data.

GP management of depression or anxiety
Years of data: 2009–2013

During 2009–2013, the percentage of GP consultations in which depression or anxiety was managed varied across Medicare Local catchments and across peer groups, ranging from 9% in Frankston- Mornington Peninsula (Vic) and Hume (Vic/NSW) to 4% in Sydney North Shore & Beaches.

Percentage of GP consultations in which depression, anxiety or both of these conditions were managed, 2009–2013

The following image is a map of Australia showing the percentage of GP consultations in which depression or anxiety was managed for mddicare local catchments. Data can be found in the Fair comparisons section.

Results for Medicare Local catchments were ranked from highest to lowest and then split into six groups.2

The following is a legend for the maps detailed on this page. The first row shows the various colour ranges, the second is the relevant colour's range value and the third indicates which end is highest and lowest.
NP
4.0%
5.0%
6.0%
7.0%
8.0%
9.0%
Lowest group
Highest group
Medicare Local catchment boundary
506
Numbers on map are Medicare Local reference codes
The following are images of maps around major cities showing the percentage of GP consultations in which depression or anxiety was managed for mddicare local catchments. Data can be found in the Fair comparisons section.

i. Perth and
surrounding areas

ii. Adelaide and
surrounding areas

iii. Melbourne and
surrounding areas

iv. Canberra and
surrounding areas

v. Sydney and
surrounding areas

vi. Brisbane and
surrounding areas

1. Results comprise patients of any age with diagnosed depression and/or anxiety.

2. Each Medicare Local catchment has been assigned to a group that represents one percentage point.

3. For more information on peer groups and the calculation of peer group results refer to this report’s Technical Supplement.

Notes: Data are reported as whole numbers. However, for graphical display and ordering they are plotted unrounded. Data are collected from a national survey of GPs. Characteristics of participating GPs may differ from non-participating GPs in a Medicare Local catchment which may affect the generalisability of results. For data limitations and exclusions see this report’s Technical Supplement.

Source: Customised analysis of BEACH data prepared for the National Health Performance Authority by the Family Medicine Research Centre, the University of Sydney, 2009–2013.

Data can be downloaded from Explore the data.

NP Not available for publication.

More information can be found at http://www.myhealthycommunities.gov.au and in this report’s Technical Supplement.

Fair comparisons

To compare Medicare Locals more fairly, each Medicare Local catchment has been grouped into one of seven peer groups3, based on remoteness and socioeconomic status.
This allows:

  • Medicare Local catchments to be compared within the same metropolitan, regional or rural peer group
  • Medicare Local catchments to be compared with the average for their peer group.

It also allows variation to be seen across peer groups that may be associated with remoteness and socioeconomic status.

See the PDF ReportOpens in a new window. for a graphical representation of the table below.

Peer groups Map Ref. Percentage of GP Consultations
Metro 16% (CI: 6%–7%)
Inner NW Melbourne2018% (CI: 8%–9%)
Bayside2027% (CI: 6%–8%)
Inner East Melbourne2067% (CI: 6%–8%)
Eastern Sydney1017% (CI: 6%–8%)
Australian Capital Territory8016% (CI: 5%–8%)
Inner West Sydney1026% (CI: 5%–6%)
Northern Sydney1076% (CI: 5%–7%)
Sydney Nth Shore & Beaches1084% (CI: 4%–5%)
Metro 27% (CI: 6%–7%)
Perth Central & East Metro5018% (CI: 7%–9%)
Sthn Adelaide-Fleurieu-Kang. Is.4038% (CI: 7%–9%)
Eastern Melbourne2078% (CI: 7%–9%)
Fremantle5038% (CI: 6%–9%)
South Western Melbourne2037% (CI: 5%–9%)
Perth North Metro5027% (CI: 6%–8%)
Metro North Brisbane3017% (CI: 6%–8%)
Gold Coast3037% (CI: 6%–8%)
Bentley-Armadale5046% (CI: 5%–7%)
South Eastern Sydney1036% (CI: 5%–7%)
Central Adelaide & Hills4025% (CI: 5%–6%)
Greater Metro South Brisbane3025% (CI: 5%–6%)
Metro 36% (CI: 6%–6%)
Northern Adelaide4018% (CI: 7%–10%)
Northern Melbourne2058% (CI: 7%–9%)
Macedon Ranges & NW Melbourne2047% (CI: 5%–8%)
South Eastern Melbourne2086% (CI: 5%–7%)
West Moreton-Oxley3056% (CI: 5%–7%)
Western Sydney1055% (CI: 5%–6%)
South Western Sydney1045% (CI: 4%–5%)
Regional 17% (CI: 7%–7%)
Frankston-Mornington Peninsula2099% (CI: 8%–11%)
Perth South Coastal5058% (CI: 6%–10%)
Nepean-Blue Mountains1067% (CI: 6%–8%)
Hunter1117% (CI: 6%–8%)
Illawarra-Shoalhaven1107% (CI: 6%–8%)
Barwon2107% (CI: 5%–8%)
Sunshine Coast3047% (CI: 6%–8%)
Central Coast NSW1096% (CI: 5%–7%)
Regional 27% (CI: 7%–7%)
Hume2169% (CI: 6%–11%)
Tasmania6018% (CI: 7%–9%)
Great South Coast2128% (CI: 5%–10%)
North Coast NSW1137% (CI: 7%–8%)
Grampians2117% (CI: 6%–9%)
Loddon-Mallee-Murray2147% (CI: 5%–10%)
Gippsland2177% (CI: 6%–8%)
South West WA5067% (CI: 6%–8%)
Goulburn Valley2156% (CI: 5%–8%)
Southern NSW1176% (CI: 5%–8%)
Wide Bay3076% (CI: 5%–8%)
Darling Downs-SW Qld3066% (CI: 5%–7%)
Western NSW1156% (CI: 5%–7%)
New England1146% (CI: 4%–7%)
Murrumbidgee1165% (CI: 4%–6%)
Country South SA404NP
Rural 16% (CI: 5%–6%)
Townsville-Mackay3106% (CI: 5%–7%)
Central Qld3086% (CI: 4%–7%)
Country North SA4055% (CI: 4%–7%)
Far West NSW118NP
Lower Murray213NP
Rural 26% (CI: 5%–7%)
Northern Territory7017% (CI: 5%–10%)
Far North Qld3116% (CI: 5%–7%)
Central & NW Qld309NP
Goldfields-Midwest507NP
Kimberley-Pilbara508NP

14 Harrison CM, Britt HC, Miller GC, Henderson J. Prevalence of chronic conditions in Australia.PLoS ONE. 2013;8(7):e67494. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0067494.

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