Data shows size of difference in health care treatment by ethnicity, socioeconomic status

20 Jun 2016 | Health Quality Intelligence

Data from the Health Quality & Safety Commission shows there are differences in health care and treatment provided to people from different ethnic groups, socioeconomic status and DHBs.

The data examined related to asthma, diabetes and gout.

Equity Explorer Expert Advisory Group Chair, Dr David Jansen, says to identify inequities, a different lens was put over the data.

'Comparisons were made between ethnic groups and the socioeconomic status of groups, with a particular focus on the size of the differences between them.

'By highlighting inequities, we can set about decreasing them. Some individuals and groups have more than their fair share of health problems and this data helps us understand where we need to focus our efforts.'

He says the data shows Māori, Pacific and poorer children are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to be admitted to hospital for asthma.

'There is also wide variety in the dispensing of asthma preventer medicine between socioeconomic groups in some DHB areas.

'For gout, Māori and Pacific peoples are less likely to be given allopurinol – which can be successful in preventing gout attacks.'

Conversely, Dr Jansen says the data showed that there was little difference between ethnic or socioeconomic groups in how often people with diabetes were tested for blood sugar control.

'However, some DHBs have recorded differences in how many people with diabetes are prescribed long-term medicines for preventing diabetes complications.

'Māori, Pacific, and Asian people with diabetes also spent more days in hospital than European people with diabetes, as did poorer people with diabetes.'

The data is from the Commission’s ‘Equity Explorer’, which provides information on how health and health care varies between groups of people in each DHB.

'Health equity means there are no avoidable differences in health between different groups of people. To achieve this, we first need to identify populations who do not experience the same level of health as other groups. Then we can work out reasons for these differences. This might be because they don’t receive the best treatment or care for their condition, or because health services are less accessible to them.'

He says questions that might be prompted by this information include:

  • Why are there differences in health outcomes for different groups of people?
  • Does everyone in the DHB have the same access to health care?
  • Within my DHB, which indicators have the biggest variation? Why?
  • Which DHBs seem to be doing better in reducing health inequity, and why is that?
  • Are there patterns across indicators within my DHB?

'This information will help DHBs, primary health organisations, health professional organisations and health non-governmental agencies identify areas where they may need to do things differently.'

You can see the Equity Explorer here: www.hqsc.govt.nz/atlas/equity-explorer.

Last updated 20/06/2016