Primary care service utilisation and outcomes in type 2 diabetes: a longitudinal cohort analysis

BMJ Open. 2022 Jan 31;12(1):e054654. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-054654.


Objectives: To describe primary care utilisation patterns among adults with type 2 diabetes and to quantify the association between utilisation and long-term health outcomes.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: 168 primary care practices in Southern England within the Electronic Care and Health Information Analytics database between 2013 and 2020.

Participants: 110 240 adults with Quality and Outcomes Framework read code of type 2 diabetes diagnosis; age greater than 18 years; linked and continuous records available from April 2013 until April 2020 (or death). PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: (1) Rates of service utilisation (total number of primary care contacts per quarter) across the study period; (2) participant characteristics associated with higher and lower rates of service utilisation; and (3) associations between service utilisation and (A) cardiovascular disease (CVD events) and (B) all-cause mortality.

Results: Mean (SD) number of primary care attendances per quarter in the cohort of 110 240 went from 2.49 (2.01) in 2013 to 2.78 (2.06) in 2020. Patients in the highest usage tertile were more likely to be female, older, more frail, white, from the least deprived quintile and to have five or more comorbidities. In adjusted models, higher rates of service utilisation (per consultation) were associated with higher rates of CVD events (OR 1.0058; 95% CI 1.0053 to 1.0062; p<0.001) and mortality (OR 1.0057; 95% CI 1.0051 to 1.0064; p<0.001).

Conclusions: People with type 2 diabetes are using primary care services more frequently, but increased volume of clinical care does not correlate with better outcomes, although this finding may be driven by more unwell patients contacting services more frequently. Further research on the nature and content of contacts is required to understand how to tailor services to deliver effective care to those at greatest risk of complications.

Keywords: general diabetes; organisation of health services; primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Primary Health Care
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies