Socioeconomic inequalities in mortality from conditions amenable to medical interventions: Do they reflect inequalities in access or quality of health care?

Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
BMC Public Health (Impact Factor: 2.26). 05/2012; 12(1):346. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-346
Source: PubMed


Previous studies have reported large socioeconomic inequalities in mortality from conditions amenable to medical intervention, but it is unclear whether these can be attributed to inequalities in access or quality of health care, or to confounding influences such as inequalities in background risk of diseases. We therefore studied whether inequalities in mortality from conditions amenable to medical intervention vary between countries in patterns which differ from those observed for other (non-amenable) causes of death. More specifically, we hypothesized that, as compared to non-amenable causes, inequalities in mortality from amenable causes are more strongly associated with inequalities in health care use and less strongly with inequalities in common risk factors for disease such as smoking.
Cause-specific mortality data for people aged 30-74 years were obtained for 14 countries, and were analysed by calculating age-standardized mortality rates and relative risks comparing a lower with a higher educational group. Survey data on health care use and behavioural risk factors for people aged 30-74 years were obtained for 12 countries, and were analysed by calculating age-and sex-adjusted odds ratios comparing a low with a higher educational group. Patterns of association were explored by calculating correlation coefficients.
In most countries and for most amenable causes of death substantial inequalities in mortality were observed, but inequalities in mortality from amenable causes did not vary between countries in patterns that are different from those seen for inequalities in non-amenable mortality. As compared to non-amenable causes, inequalities in mortality from amenable causes are not more strongly associated with inequalities in health care use. Inequalities in mortality from amenable causes are also not less strongly associated with common risk factors such as smoking.
We did not find evidence that inequalities in mortality from amenable conditions are related to inequalities in access or quality of health care. Further research is needed to find the causes of socio-economic inequalities in mortality from amenable conditions, and caution should be exercised in interpreting these inequalities as indicating health care deficiencies.

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Available from: Johan Mackenbach, Oct 13, 2015
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    • "On the one hand, the differences found might pertain to different access to and quality of healthcare according to SES, as suggested in various studies, so that higher income population segments are more likely to see a specialist [49,50]. However, other studies have not found any links between inequalities in the use of healthcare and amenable mortality [44]. On the other, the prevalence, incidence, and natural course of some diseases might have an effect on amenable mortality and differ between socioeconomic groups, since the exposure to its risk factors might also differ. "
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    ABSTRACT: While research continues into indicators such as preventable and amenable mortality in order to evaluate quality, access, and equity in the healthcare, it is also necessary to continue identifying the areas of greatest risk owing to these causes of death in urban areas of large cities, where a large part of the population is concentrated, in order to carry out specific actions and reduce inequalities in mortality. This study describes inequalities in amenable mortality in relation to socioeconomic status in small urban areas, and analyses their evolution over the course of the periods 1996-99, 2000-2003 and 2004-2007 in three major cities in the Spanish Mediterranean coast (Alicante, Castellon, and Valencia). All deaths attributed to amenable causes were analysed among non-institutionalised residents in the three cities studied over the course of the study periods. Census tracts for the cities were grouped into 3 socioeconomic status levels, from higher to lower levels of deprivation, using 5 indicators obtained from the 2001 Spanish Population Census. For each city, the relative risks of death were estimated between socioeconomic status levels using Poisson's Regression models, adjusted for age and study period, and distinguishing between genders. Amenable mortality contributes significantly to general mortality (around 10%, higher among men), having decreased over time in the three cities studied for men and women. In the three cities studied, with a high degree of consistency, it has been seen that the risks of mortality are greater in areas of higher deprivation, and that these excesses have not significantly modified over time. Although amenable mortality decreases over the time period studied, the socioeconomic inequalities observed are maintained in the three cities. Areas have been identified that display excesses in amenable mortality, potentially attributable to differences in the healthcare system, associated with areas of greater deprivation. Action must be taken in these areas of greater inequality in order to reduce the health inequalities detected. The causes behind socioeconomic inequalities in amenable mortality must be studied in depth.
    BMC Public Health 04/2014; 14(1):299. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-14-299 · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    • "Therefore the analysis of socioeconomic differences in avoidable causes of death can offer important lessons for tackling health inequalities. Following this reasoning, studies have looked at social differences in avoidable mortality [14] and whether access to medical care explains socioeconomic differences in avoidable mortality [15]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Health and inequalities in health among inhabitants of European cities are of major importance for European public health and there is great interest in how different health care systems in Europe perform in the reduction of health inequalities. However, evidence on the spatial distribution of cause-specific mortality across neighbourhoods of European cities is scarce. This study presents maps of avoidable mortality in European cities and analyses differences in avoidable mortality between neighbourhoods with different levels of deprivation. We determined the level of mortality from 14 avoidable causes of death for each neighbourhood of 15 large cities in different European regions. To address the problems associated with Standardised Mortality Ratios for small areas we smooth them using the Bayesian model proposed by Besag, York and Mollie. Ecological regression analysis was used to assess the association between social deprivation and mortality. Mortality from avoidable causes of death is higher in deprived neighbourhoods and mortality rate ratios between areas with different levels of deprivation differ between gender and cities. In most cases rate ratios are lower among women. While Eastern and Southern European cities show higher levels of avoidable mortality, the association of mortality with social deprivation tends to be higher in Northern and lower in Southern Europe. There are marked differences in the level of avoidable mortality between neighbourhoods of European cities and the level of avoidable mortality is associated with social deprivation. There is no systematic difference in the magnitude of this association between European cities or regions. Spatial patterns of avoidable mortality across small city areas can point to possible local problems and specific strategies to reduce health inequality which is important for the development of urban areas and the well-being of their inhabitants.
    International Journal of Health Geographics 03/2014; 13(1):8. DOI:10.1186/1476-072X-13-8 · 2.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: There is a renewed interest in health system indicators. In 1976 a measure of quality of healthcare, amenable mortality, was introduced by Rutstein. This indicator is based on the concept that deaths from certain causes should not occur in the presence of timely and effective healthcare. In the project "Amenable mortality in the European Union: toward better indicators for the effectiveness of health systems" (AMIEHS), we introduce a new approach to the selection of indicators of amenable mortality. Methods: Based on predefined selection criteria and a broad review of the literature on the effectiveness of medical interventions, a first set of potential indicators of amenable mortality (causes of death) was selected. The timing of the introduction of medical innovations was established through reviews and questionnaires sent to national experts from seven participating European countries. The preselected indicators were then validated by a trend analysis that identified associations between the timing of innovations and cause-specific mortality trends and by a Delphi-procedure. Results: After a short review of previous lists of amenable mortality indicators and a detailed description of the innovative procedure in the AMIEHS project we present a list of 14 causes of death that passed our selection criteria. We illustrate our empirical validation of these indicators using the examples of peptic ulcer and renal failure. Conclusions: The innovation developed in the AMIEHS study is a rigorous new approach to the concept of amenable mortality that includes empirical validation. Only validated indicators can be successfully used to assess the quality of healthcare systems in international comparisons.
    Gaceta Sanitaria 11/2012; 27(3). DOI:10.1016/j.gaceta.2012.08.004 · 1.19 Impact Factor
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