Variation in the use of primary care services for diabetes management according to country of birth and geography among older Australians

Duong Thuy Tran, Louisa R Jorm, Alys Havard, Mark F Harris, Elizabeth Jean Comino
Primary Care Diabetes 2016, 10 (1): 66-74

AIMS: To investigate variation according to country of birth and geography in the use of primary care services funded through Medicare Australia-Australian universal health insurance-for diabetes annual cycle of care among older overseas-born Australians with type-2 diabetes.

METHODS: Records of Medicare claims for medical services were linked to self-administered questionnaire data for people with type-2 diabetes enrolled in the 45 and Up Study, including 840 participants born in Italy, Greece, Vietnam, Lebanon, China, India, or the Philippines and 12,444 participants born in Australia, living in 195 statistical local areas (SLAs) in New South Wales, Australia. Study outcomes included ≥6 claims for general practitioner (GP) visits, at least one claim for specialist, optometrist, Practice Incentive Payment for completion of diabetes annual cycle of care (PIP), GP Management Plan or Team Care Arrangement (GPMP/TCA), allied health, blood tests for glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and cholesterol, and urine test for micro-albumin. Multivariable multilevel logistic regression was performed, controlling for personal socio-demographic and health characteristics and geographical area remoteness and socio-economic status.

RESULTS: Compared with Australia-born participants, people born in Vietnam and China had significantly lower rates of claims for allied health services (odds ratio [OR] 0.14, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.05-0.43, and OR 0.40, 95%CI 0.18-0.87, respectively), those born in Italy had lower rates of PIP claims (OR 0.60, 95%CI 0.39-0.92) and micro-albuminuria testings (OR 0.65, 95%CI 0.47-0.89), and those born in the Philippines had lower claims for specialist services (OR 0.59, 95%CI 0.38-0.91). Participants born in Greece and China (GP visits), Vietnam (optometrist services), and India (micro-albuminuria tests) were more likely to claims for these services than Australia-born people. Significant geographic variation was observed for all study outcomes, with the greatest variations in claims for allied health services (variation 9.3%, median odds ratio [MOR] 1.74, 95% credible interval [CrI] 1.60-2.01), PIP (7.8%, MOR 1.65, 95%CrI 1.55-1.83), and GPMP/TCA items (6.6%, MOR 1.58, 95%CrI 1.49-1.73).

CONCLUSIONS: Different approach among geographical areas and intervention programs for identified cultural groups and their providers are warranted to improve disparities in diabetes care.

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