Objectives: SLE patients require varying levels of health services since disease severity and activity differ among individuals. Understanding the factors associated with health service utilisation would be useful in improving equitable access. It would also help to identify modifiable factors and current good practices so as to improve quality of care and thus reduce utilisation. Thus, the objective of this review is to identify factors associated with health services utilisation.
Methods: Five electronic databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, EMBASE, International Pharmaceutical Abstract, Web of Science) and bibliographies of short-listed articles were searched. All indicators of health service utilisation (physician and specialist visits, hospitalisations, direct costs) and alternative medicine utilisation were accepted as outcomes in primary studies. Two authors independently selected the studies based on pre-specified inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Results: Of 1,276 papers retrieved from electronic and hand searches, 25 were finally selected and reviewed in totality, of which 13 were cross-sectional, 5 were prospective, and 7 were retrospective studies. A variety of service types (e.g. outpatient visits, hospitalisations, etc.) and factors (e.g. demographic, socioeconomic, laboratory indices, etc.) were evaluated. Type of health insurance, poorer physical functioning and greater disease severity were found to be associated with higher utilisation across several studies.
Conclusion: Modifying the choice or coverage of health insurance plans of SLE patients is a possible option in improving equitable access. Better management of patient reported outcomes such as physical functioning and timely management of SLE to reduce disease severity may reduce health services utilisation in the long term.