Key messages

  • Mental health clinicians are required to collect and report a series of outcome measures on consumers’ health and general functioning.
  • No single measurement scale can provide an accurate overall picture of a person’s mental health.
  • Outcome measures form a critical part of any treatment plan and provide an important platform for dialogue and collaboration between the consumer, their carer and the clinical team.

Consumer outcomes are regularly measured by public mental health services to ensure better results for individual consumers and steady improvements in clinical service delivery.

Mental health clinicians are required to collect and report a series of outcome measures on consumers’ health and general functioning whenever they undergo a change in service setting. These de-identified data are reported to the Commonwealth Government under the National Outcomes and Casemix Collection (NOCC) protocol.

The NOCC comprises a range of instruments designed to measure health outcomes for consumers of different ages at specific stages in their mental health journey. Some measures are designed to be completed by the treating clinician; others are completed by consumers who rate their own mental health.

Who are outcome measures collected from?

Across Australia, an agreed group of measures are routinely collected by clinicians, consumers and carers, as well as by parents or caregivers in child and adolescent services. Data is collected across three broad age groups – children and adolescents, adults, and older people – in three different service settings:

  • acute inpatient services
  • community residential settings
  • ambulatory services.

What outcome measures are collected?

Experience shows that no single measurement scale can provide an accurate overall picture of a person’s mental health, and a range of tools are required to track a consumer’s progress over time. Collectively, these tools aim to provide a picture of a consumer’s:

  • severity of symptoms
  • psychosocial functioning
  • level of disability
  • focus of care
  • self-assessment of their mental health status.

When are outcome measures collected?

Under the NOCC protocol, outcome measures must be collected at specific times or ‘episodes’ in a consumer’s mental health journey. These include:

  • admission to an inpatient or residential setting
  • discharge from a service
  • a routine clinical review every 91 days
  • a discretionary review, if this is deemed necessary before the 91 days have elapsed.

Health outcomes are derived by comparing these measures over time and in the context of the consumer’s clinical information, including their diagnosis, legal status and focus of care.

Outcome measures form a critical part of any treatment plan and provide an important platform for dialogue and collaboration between the consumer, their carer and the clinical team. They also form a vital component of planning for discharge from a mental health service.

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