Variations in diagnostic testing utilization in Italy: Secondary analysis of a national survey

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Background: According to the principle of horizontal equity, individuals with similar need may have the same possibility of access to health services. The aim of this study is to identify patterns of diagnostic services utilization, in people with, and without chronic disease in Italy. Methods: Secondary analysis of data from the national survey on Health and use of health care in Italy, carried out in 2013, including 99,497 participants. Multilevel analysis has been used to study the variables associated to diagnostic services utilization. Results: 13.78% of participants have had one diagnostic testing in the four weeks before the interview. In healthy people, utilization of diagnostic testing is reduced in people with low educational level (OR 0.75; 95%CI 0.67-0.84), in housewives (OR 0.66; 95%CI 0.51-0.87), or in those unable to work (OR 0.48; 95%CI 0.26-0.87), while increased in those perceiving a worse health status (up to OR 4.00, 95%CI 2.00-8.01 in very bad health). In people afflicted with chronic disease, access to diagnostic assessment is impaired by educational level (OR 0.69; 95%CI 0.61-0.78) and low household income (OR 0.75; 95%CI 0.58-0.97), while it is increased in the presence of a ticket exemption (OR 1.55, 95%CI 1.42-1.68), and fixedterm occupation (OR2.28, 95%CI 1.31-3.95). Being former-smokers in associated to an increased utilization of services in both groups. Conclusions: Despite a universal and theoretically egalitarian, public, health care system, variations in diagnostic services utilization are still registered in Italy, both in healthy people and those afflicted by chronic diseases, on socio-economic/occupational basis, and self-perceived health status. Moreover, this significant effect of occupation on healthcare utilization, suggests the need for a comprehensive evaluation of economics in occupational health.




Barbadoro, P., D’Alleva, A., Galmozzi, S., Zocco, G., Di Stanislao, F., Prospero, E., & D’Errico, M. M. (2018). Variations in diagnostic testing utilization in Italy: Secondary analysis of a national survey. PLoS ONE, 13(6).

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