Impact of different health systems on the burden of type 2 diabetes in two populations

Naomh Gallagher, Kathleen Bennett, Susan M. Smith, Dermot O'Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objectives: Health policy directs the management of patients with chronic disease in a country, but evaluating nationwide policies is difficult, not least because of the absence of suitable comparators. This paper examines the management of patients with type 2 diabetes in two demographically comparable populations with different health care systems to see if this represents a viable approach to evaluation.

Methods: A secondary analysis of centralized prescribing databases for 2010 was undertaken to compare the levels and costs of care of patients with type 2 diabetes in Northern Ireland’s National Health Service (NHS) (NI, n = 1.8 million) which has structured care, financial incentives related to diabetes care and an emphasis on generic prescribing, with that of the Republic of Ireland (ROI, n = 4.3 million) where management of diabetes care is guided solely by clinical and other guidelines.

Results: The prevalence of treated type 2 diabetes was 3.59% in NI and 3.09% in ROI, but there were similar and high levels of prescribing of secondary cardiovascular medications. Medication costs per person for anti-diabetic, anti-obesity and cardiovascular medication were 46% higher in ROI than NI, due to differences in levels of generic prescribing.

Conclusions: These different health care systems appear to be producing similar levels of care for patients with type 2 diabetes, although at different levels of cost. The findings question the need for financial incentives in NI and highlight the large cost savings potentially accruing from a greater shift to generic prescribing in ROI. Cross-country comparison, though not without difficulties, may prove a useful adjunct to within-country analysis of policy impact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Health Services Research & Policy
Issue number2
Early online date06 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


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