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Impact of primary care on avoidable hospital admissions for diabetes

In this recent study researchers attempted to discover if high-quality diabetes care based in primary care would be able to prevent avoidable hospital admissions for diabetes-related problems, as is often assumed to be the case. They examined primary care in 23 countries and found that strong primary care is not necessarily associated with lower rates of diabetes-related hospitalisations. Hospital bed supply appeared to be a more important factor in the relationship.

By Colin Kenny, GP, Dromore

In this study, which was conducted in Scandinavia, data on the organisation of primary care were obtained by means of standardised surveys among GPs and patients, which took place between October 2011 and December 2013. The researchers were looking, in particular, for: comprehensiveness of, and access to, care; coordination of care; and continuity of care. Data were also obtained for age- and sex-standardised hospitalisation rates.

Questionnaires from 45,082 patients and 5098 GPs were obtained in the countries being focused on. The results of the study showed that where GP practices have more medical equipment, and GPs have a broader task profile, rates of hospital admission for uncontrolled diabetes tend to be higher. The results also revealed that in countries where individuals experience relatively good access to care, they have a significantly higher chance of being admitted for long-term complications. Hospital bed supply was also strongly associated with admission rates.

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