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PLoS One. 2018 Mar 27;13(3):e0194972. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194972. eCollection 2018.

Regional Outcome Evaluation Program (P.Re.Val.E.): Reduction of inequality in access to effective health care in the Lazio region of Italy (2012-2015).

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Department of Epidemiology of Lazio Regional Health Service, Rome, Italy.



Inequalities in health among groups of various socio-economic status (as measured by education, occupation, and income) constitute one of the main challenges for public health. Since 2006, the Lazio Regional Outcome Evaluation Program (P.Re.Val.E.), presents a set of indicators of hospital performance based on quality standards driven by strong clinical recommendations, and measures the variation in the access to effective health care for different population groups and providers in the Lazio Region. One of the aims of the program was to compare population subgroups in order to promote equity in service provision. Since June 2013, a new management strategy has been put in place that assigned specific goals based on performance assessment to the chief executive officers of the hospitals.


To evaluate whether, in recent years, there has been a reduction in the differential access to effective health care, among individuals with different educational levels.


We enrolled all patients discharged from both public and private hospitals of the Lazio region between 2012 and 2015, living in Lazio region. We analysed the proportion of patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) treated with percutaneous coronary intervention within 90 minutes (primary PCI), the proportion of patients with hip fracture (HF) who underwent surgery within 2 days, and the proportion of women with primary C-section. We applied multivariate logistic regression models to assess the effect of educational level on health outcomes, adjusting for demographic characteristics and comorbidities that could affect the outcomes. For each year of the study period, we compared adjusted proportions of outcomes for the highest and the lowest level of education by using percentage differences.


In the Lazio region, 44.6% of STEMI patients (N = 3,299) were treated with primary PCI, 54.4% of patients with hip fractures (N = 6,602) underwent surgery within 2 days, and 27.7% of women without a previous C-section (N = 34,718) delivered via C-section, in 2015. The corresponding proportions in 2012 were 27.8%, 31.3% and 31.5%, respectively. By comparing the adjusted proportions in patients with the highest education level (a university degree or higher) to those with the lowest level education level (None/Primary school), a decrease in the percentage difference was observed during the study period. In STEMI and delivery cohorts, the improvement of outcomes involved the least and the most educated patients, respectively, and the difference between the two educational levels was close to zero in 2015, whereas for hip patients, the improvement was more evident among the less educated patients.


In the Lazio region, we observed a reduction in the differential access to effective heath care by educational level, in different clinical areas. Different factors might explain these results. On top of the public disclosure of outcome data, the management strategy applied in mid-2013 might have driven the overall improvement of the health system for the considered conditions, helping to achieve a fairer access to health.

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