JOURNAL ARTICLE
META-ANALYSIS
REVIEW
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[Social disparities in outpatient and inpatient care: An overview of current findings in Germany].

There is controversy about social disparities in healthcare services in Germany, but a differentiated analysis regarding various dimensions of healthcare is lacking. This narrative review intends to summarize conceptually the current state of research and draw subsequent conclusions. Separated into access, utilization and quality, the findings of social inequality in outpatient and inpatient care in Germany are summarized. Besides the common individual indicators of socioeconomic status (SES), regional deprivation and health insurance status are also included. Despite methodical diversity, the results show that healthcare inequalities due to SES exist, but not universally. Furthermore, there is a differentiated pattern respecting separate dimensions of healthcare. Concerning access (e.g. waiting times, co-payments) lower status groups and patients covered by statutory health insurance are deprived. Higher utilization becomes apparent among higher status groups and privately insured patients in terms of specialist consultations and prevention services. The findings regarding quality of process and outcome differ depending on quality indicator and disease. In different dimensions of medical healthcare, social disparities still exist, though the impact on health remains unclear for some types of healthcare inequalities. Moreover, it is often difficult to conclude from unequal outcome quality the inequalities of healthcare. Depending on access, utilization and quality, separate interventions for reducing these disparities are to be introduced.

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