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Study puts mental health services data under the microscope to improve service planning and system reform

New research from the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR) has analysed Australia’s numerous collections of mental health services data and identified how they can be improved to inform service planning and system reform.

QCMHR researcher, Ms Claudia Pagliaro (who is also completing her PhD at The University of Queensland’s School of Public Health) led the Australian-first study, which aimed to identify Australia’s national collections of mental health services activity and capacity data and analyse data items and gaps in the context of integrated regional mental health service planning.

Ms Pagliaro said study outcomes were expected to be of significant value to Australia’s mental health service planners who require data and information on service capacity and performance to identify priority areas for investment.

“Effective mental health service planning relies on good data for evaluation and monitoring of service performance – however, as Australian mental health services are funded and managed across different jurisdictions, departments and external organisations – data collection is often fragmented and uncoordinated,” Mrs Pagliaro said.

“Our study identified twenty relevant data collections that can be more useful to planners now that we have analysed how the collections interface, what gaps exist, and where data overlaps.

“Without this information, it is difficult for service planners to know what data is available, from where, and in what format, to drive decision-making.”

The study’s key recommendations for data development included the need to mandate national data collections for psychosocial support services; to quantify a wider range of service providers by broadening the scope of workforce data collections; and the need for descriptive variables to better quantify the different types of service activity being delivered across the system.

The research also found the need to streamline collections for services that receive funding via multiple pathways, as the same services data are sometimes captured across multiple collections, leading to duplication of effort.

Overall, to ensure data drives evidence-informed service investment decisions, the study underscored the importance of ensuring that data collected in the mental health service system is fit-for-purpose, available, and easily digestible by those for whom it is collected.

The study was published in the Health Information Management Journal in June 2023.

DOI: 10.1177/18333583231175770

Media contact: Ms Claudia Pagliaro, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Level 3, Dawson House
The Park Centre for Mental Health Treatment
Research and Education, Wacol, QLD 4076
P: +61 7 3271 8704


In the spirit of reconciliation, the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR) acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands in which QCMHR operates and their continuing connections to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and stand together with all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.