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A longitudinal evaluation of persons with disabilities: does a longitudinal definition help define who receives necessary care?


Chan L, Ciol MA, Shumway-Cook A, Yorkston KM, Dudgeon BJ, Asch SM, Hoffman JM



Publication Info:

Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 89(6):1023-30


OBJECTIVE: To assess, using a longitudinal definition, the impact of disability on a broad range of objective health care quality indicators.
DESIGN: Longitudinal cohort study following up with patients over several years. The first 2 interviews, 1 year apart, were used to determine each patient's disability status in activities of daily living (ADLs). Assessment of the health care indicators commenced after the second interview and continued throughout the survey period (an additional 1-3y).
SETTING: National survey.
PARTICIPANTS: Participants (N=29,074) of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (1992-2001) with no, increasing, decreasing, and stable ADL disability.
INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.
OUTCOME MEASURE: The incidence of 5 avoidable outcomes, receipt of 3 preventive care measures, and adherence to 32 diagnostically based indicators assessing the quality of treatment for acute myocardial infarction [AMI], angina, breast cancer, cerebrovascular accident, transient ischemic attack, cholelithiasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], congestive heart failure, depression, gastrointestinal bleeding, diabetes, and hypertension.
RESULTS: For most indicators, less than 75% of eligible patients received necessary care, regardless of disability status. For 5 indicators, less than 50% of patients received appropriate treatment. In a logistic regression analysis that controlled for patient age, sex, race, and income, disability status was a significant factor in 7 quality measures (AMI, breast cancer, COPD, diabetes, angina, pneumonia, annual visits).
CONCLUSIONS: Using a longitudinal definition of disability and objective health quality indicators, we found that disability status can be an important factor in determining receipt of quality health care in a broad range of diagnostic categories. However, the impact of disability status varies depending on the indicator measured. In this cohort of patients, the changing nature of a person's disability seems to have less impact than whether they ever have had any functional deficits.

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