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No moment wasted: the primary-care visit for adults with diabetes and low socio-economic status

  • Shari D. Bolen (a1) (a2), Paulette Sage (a3), Adam T. Perzynski (a1) and Kurt C. Stange (a2) (a3) (a4)
Abstract
Aim

To better understand the type and range of health issues initiated by patients and providers in ‘high-quality’ primary-care for adults with diabetes and low socio-economic status (SES).

Background

Although quality of care guidelines are straightforward, diabetes visits in primary care are often more complex than adhering to guidelines, especially in adults with low SES who experience many financial and environmental barriers to good care.

Methods

We conducted a qualitative study using direct observation of primary-care diabetes visits at an exemplar safety net practice in 2009–2010.

Findings

In a mainly African American (93%) low-income population with fair cardiovascular control (mean A1c 7.5%, BP 134/81 mmHg, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol 100 mg/dL), visits addressed a variety of bio-psychosocial health issues [median: 25 problems/visit (range 13–32)]. Physicians most frequently initiated discussions about chronic diseases, prevention, and health behavior. Patients most frequently initiated discussions about social environment and acute symptoms followed by prevention and health behavior.

Conclusions

Primary-care visits by diabetes patients with low SES address a surprising number and diversity of problems. Emerging new models of primary-care delivery and quality measurement should allow adequate time and resources to address the range of tasks necessary for integrating biomedical and psychosocial concerns to improve the health of socio-economically disadvantaged patients.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence to: Shari Bolen, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, MetroHealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Rammelkamp Building R234, 2500 MetroHealth Drive, Cleveland, Ohio 44109, USA. Email: sdb73@case.edu
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Primary Health Care Research & Development
  • ISSN: 1463-4236
  • EISSN: 1477-1128
  • URL: /core/journals/primary-health-care-research-and-development
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