OBJECTIVE: We examined the prevalence of access problems among public clinic patients after participating in trials of automated telephone disease management with nurse follow-up.
DESIGN: Randomized trial.
SETTING: General medicine clinics of a county health care system and a Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system.
PARTICIPANTS: Five hundred seventy adults with diabetes using hypoglycemic medication were enrolled and randomized; 520 (91%) provided outcome data at 12 months.
INTERVENTION: Biweekly automated telephone assessments with telephone follow-up by diabetes nurse educators.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: At follow-up, patients reported whether in the prior 6 months they had failed to obtain each of six types of health services because of a financial or nonfinancial access problem. Patients receiving the intervention were significantly less likely than patients receiving usual care to report access problems (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.61; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.43 to 0.97). The risk of reporting access problems was greater among county clinic patients than VA patients even when adjusting for their experimental condition, and socioeconomic and clinical risk factors (AOR, 1.61; 95% CI, 1.02 to 2.53). County patients were especially more likely to avoid seeking care because of a worry about the cost (AOR, 2.82; 95% CI, 1.48 to 5.37).
CONCLUSIONS: Many of these public sector patients with diabetes reported that they failed to obtain health services because they perceived financial and nonfinancial access problems. Automated telephone disease management calls with telephone nurse follow-up improved patients’ access to care. Despite the impact of the intervention, county clinic patients were more likely than VA patients to report access problems in several areas.
diabetes telephone health services accessibility socioeconomic factors
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