Background: Diabetes model projects in different regions of Germany including interventions such as quality circles, patient education and documentation of medical findings have shown improvements of HbA1c levels, blood pressure and occurrence of hypoglycaemia in before-after studies (without control group). In 2002 the German Ministry of Health defined legal regulations for the introduction of nationwide disease management programs (DMP) to improve the quality of care in chronically ill patients. In April 2003 the first DMP for patients with type 2 diabetes was accredited. The evaluation of the DMP is essential and has been made obligatory in Germany by the Fifth Book of Social Code. The aim of the study is to assess the effectiveness of DMP by example of type 2 diabetes in the primary care setting of two German federal states (Rheinland-Pfalz and Sachsen-Anhalt).
Methods/design: The study is three-armed: a prospective cluster-randomized comparison of two interventions (DMP 1 and DMP 2) against routine care without DMP as control group. In the DMP group 1 the patients are treated according to the current situation within the German-Diabetes-DMP. The DMP group 2 represents diabetic care within ideally implemented DMP providing additional interventions (e.g. quality circles, outreach visits). According to a sample size calculation a sample size of 200 GPs (each GP including 20 patients) will be required for the comparison of DMP 1 and DMP 2 considering possible drop-outs. For the comparison with routine care 4000 patients identified by diabetic tracer medication and age (> 50 years) will be analyzed.
Discussion: This study will evaluate the effectiveness of the German Diabetes-DMP compared to a Diabetes-DMP providing additional interventions and routine care in the primary care setting of two different German federal states.