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Scientific article
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Evaluating equity in healthcare: pilot implementation of a self-assessment tool

Published inEuropean journal of public health, vol. 29, no. Supplement_4
Publication date2019-11-01
First online date2019-11-13
Abstract

Background: Several sets of standards aiming at improving access and quality of care for service users have been published in recent years. Certain standards focused on improving healthcare providers' responsiveness to specific target groups. The general goal of this research was to improve organisations' awareness of equity standards that are not focused on specific groups, but on all contributing factors that put vulnerable groups at risk of exclusion. The specific objective was to evaluate the degree of compliance with a set of equity standards in 52 health care organisations from 16 countries.

Methods: A self-assessment tool (SAT) was developed to allow healthcare organisations to measure their capacity to provide equitable care for service users. The SAT indicates the main areas that should be addressed: equity in policy; equitable access and utilisation; equitable quality of care; equity in participation; promoting equity. A cross-sectional survey addressing participants from pilot-organisations was used for data collection, concerning both the self-reported compliance score with the standards, as well as the additional information provided to support the score assigned. Data were analysed quantitatively as well as qualitatively.

Results: The findings confirm that healthcare providers do invest in improving equity in the access and delivery of services to vulnerable groups. However, many health organisations have inadequate strategies to address inequities and are insufficiently engaged in improving equity in participation and promoting equity outside the organisation.

Conclusions: The participating organisations reported a significant impact from use of the self-assessment tool: some received the support from regional/national authorities to continue working on improving equity in healthcare; others linked the equity standards to existing performance-measurement strategies; others invested in new frameworks to improve service users engagement.

Key messages: The implementation of the SAT contributes to a self-reflective process, involving health professionals and managers, in which gaps and potential improvements are identified. Pilot organisations utilised the SAT as part of a process of increasing their awareness of equity issues and changing their organisational culture.

Citation (ISO format)
CHIARENZA, Antonio, DOMENIG, Dagmar, CATTACIN, Sandro. Evaluating equity in healthcare: pilot implementation of a self-assessment tool. In: European journal of public health, 2019, vol. 29, n° Supplement_4. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckz186.659
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