Rural–urban differences in receiving guideline-recommended diabetes care and experiencing avoidable hospitalizations under a universal coverage health system: evidence from the past decade

C. C. Chen, L. W. Chen, S. H. Cheng

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Objectives Rural–urban differences in health remain a concern worldwide. Few studies have investigated the dynamic changes in health between rural and urban areas. This study aims to examine whether the rural–urban gap in patients' receipt of guideline-recommended care and avoidable hospitalizations has decreased in 10 years under a universal coverage health system. Study design A retrospective cohort study design. Methods This study utilized nationwide health insurance claims data of 3 representative cohorts of patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes in 2000, 2005, and 2010 in Taiwan. The two outcome variables were receipt of guideline-recommended care and avoidable hospitalizations for diabetes. Generalized estimating equations models were used to estimate the rural–urban differences while controlling for physician-clustering effects. Results Rural diabetic patients were less likely to receive guideline-recommended examinations/tests in 2000 (eβ = 0.97; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.96–0.99); however, the average number of examinations/tests increased and the rural–urban difference had diminished in 2010. The likelihood of avoidable hospitalizations for diabetes among rural diabetic patients was higher than that for their urban counterparts in 2000 (odds ratio [OR]: 1.13; 95% CI: 1.01–1.25). Although the likelihood of avoidable hospitalizations for diabetes decreased from 2000 to 2010, the rural–urban gap remained during this period. Conclusions The rural–urban disparity in receiving recommended diabetes care diminished over the past decade. However, significant gaps between rural and urban areas in avoidable hospitalizations for diabetes persisted despite the universal health system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Health
StatePublished - Oct 2017



  • Avoidable hospitalization
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Guideline-recommended care
  • Rural–urban disparity
  • Universal health system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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