Aims: To conduct a systematic review of published observational studies of quality of diabetes care in primary care in the UK and to compare the results with the quality of care data from the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) of the new General Practice Contract in the UK.
Methods: medline and embase were searched for articles published from 1999 to June 2006. We also searched for reference lists of studies that fitted our inclusion criteria. All members of the Primary Care Diabetes Europe were contacted and asked to send lists of any relevant published articles. Abstracts were reviewed and data were collected independently by two authors.
Results: Abstracts of 742 papers were identified, of which six papers fulfilled the final selection criteria. The total number of people included in the six published studies was 83 098 (a range of 504 to 54 180 people) compared with the UK QOF data of 1.8 million people with diabetes. The quality indicators for assessment of care varied between different published studies, making comparisons more difficult. Overall, there was a trend towards improvement in both process and outcome of care in the published studies. The quality of care achieved as a result of QOF was greater than that found in published studies.
Conclusions: There have been improvements in both process and outcome measures recorded in publications of quality of diabetes care in the UK between 2000 and 2004. Modest financial incentives in primary care are a successful method of improving care for people with diabetes.