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Do quality improvement initiatives for diabetes care address social inequities? Secondary analysis of a systematic review

14 Feb 2018


Socially disadvantaged populations carry a disproportionate burden of diabetes-related morbidity and mortality. There is an emerging interest in quality improvement (QI) strategies in the care of patients with diabetes, however, the effect of these interventions on disadvantaged groups remains unclear.


This is a secondary analysis of a systematic review that seeks to examine the extent of equity considerations in diabetes QI studies, specifically quantifying the proportion of studies that target interventions toward disadvantaged populations and conduct analyses on the impact of interventions on disadvantaged groups.

Research design and methods

Studies were identified using Medline, HealthStar and the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care database. Randomised controlled trials assessing 12 QI strategies targeting health systems, healthcare professionals and/or patients for the management of adult outpatients with diabetes were eligible. The place of residence, race/ethnicity/culture/language, occupational status, gender/sexual identity, religious affiliations, education level, socioeconomic status, social capital, plus age, disability, sexual preferences and relationships (PROGRESS-Plus) framework was used to identify trials that focused on disadvantaged patient populations, to examine the types of equity-relevant factors that are being considered and to explore temporal trends in equity-relevant diabetes QI trials.


Of the 278 trials that met the inclusion criteria, 95 trials had equity-relevant considerations. These include 64 targeted trials that focused on a disadvantaged population with the aim to improve the health status of that population and 31 general trials that undertook subgroup analyses to assess the extent to which their interventions may have had differential impacts on disadvantaged subgroups. Trials predominantly focused on race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and place of residence as potential factors for disadvantage in patients receiving diabetes care.


Less than one-third of diabetes QI trials included equity-relevant considerations, limiting the relevance and applicability of their data to disadvantaged populations. There is a need for better data collection, reporting, analysis and interventions on the social determinants of health that may influence the health outcomes of patients with diabetes.

PROSPERO registration number


Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open

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