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Assessment of health care, hospital admissions, and mortality by ethnicity: population-based cohort study of health-system performance in Scotland

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Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, Genevieve Cezard, Raj S Bhopal, Linda Williams, Anne Douglas, Andrew Millard, Markus Steiner, Duncan Buchanan, Aziz Sheikh, Laurence Gruer

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Background:  Ethnic minorities often experience barriers to health care. We studied six established quality indicators of health-system performance across ethnic groups in Scotland.

Methods: In this population-based cohort study, we linked ethnicity from Scotland's Census 2001 (April 29, 2001) to hospital admissions and mortality records, with follow-up until April 30, 2013. Indicators of health-system performance included amenable deaths (ie, deaths avertable by effective treatment), preventable deaths (ie, deaths avertable by public health policy), avoidable deaths (combined amenable and preventable deaths), avoidable hospital admissions, unplanned readmissions, and length of stay. We calculated rate ratios and odds ratios (with 95% CIs) using Poisson and logistic regression, which we multiplied by 100, adjusting first for age-related covariates and then for socioeconomic-related and birthplace-related covariates. The white Scottish population was the reference (rate ratio [RR] 100).

Findings:  The results are based on 4·61 million people. During the 50·5 million person-years of study, 1·17 million avoidable hospital admissions, 587 740 unplanned readmissions, and 166 245 avoidable deaths occurred. South Asian groups had higher avoidable hospital admissions than the white Scottish group, with the highest reported RRs in Pakistani groups (RR 140·6 [95% CI 131·9–150·0] in men; RR 141·0 [129·0–154·1] in women). There was little variation between ethnic groups in length of stay or unplanned readmission. Preventable and amenable mortality were higher in the white Scottish group than several ethnic minorities including other white British, other white, Indian, and Chinese groups. Such differences were partly diminished by adjustment for socioeconomic status, whereas adjustment for country of birth had little additional effect.

Interpretation: These data suggest concerns about the access to and quality of primary care to prevent avoidable hospital admissions, especially for south Asians. Relatively high preventable and amenable deaths in white Scottish people, compared with several ethnic minority populations, were unexpected. Future studies should both corroborate and examine explanations for these patterns. Studies using several indicators simultaneously are also required internationally.

Funding: Chief Scientist's Office, Medical Research Council, NHS Research Scotland, Farr Institute.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalThe Lancet Public Health
VolumeIn press
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Apr 2018

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