Assessing cardiovascular disease risk factor screening inequalities in India using Lot Quality Assurance Sampling

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BMC Health Services Research


Background: Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of mortality in India. India has rolled out Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC) reforms including population based screening for hypertension and diabetes, facilitated by frontline health workers. Our study assessed blood pressure and blood sugar coverage achieved by frontline workers using Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS). Methods: LQAS Supervision Areas were defined as catchments covered by frontline workers in primary health centres in two districts each of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. In each Area, 19 households for each of four sampling universes (males, females, Above Poverty Line (APL) and Below Poverty Line (BPL)) were visited using probability proportional to size sampling. Following written informed consent procedures, a short questionnaire was administered to individuals aged 30 or older using tablets related to screening for diabetes and hypertension. Using the LQAS hand tally method, coverage across Supervision Areas was determined. Results: A sample of 2052 individuals was surveyed, median ages ranging from 42 to 45 years. Caste affiliation, education levels, and occupation varied by location; the sample was largely married and Hindu. Awareness of and interaction with frontline health workers was reported in Uttar Pradesh and mixed in Delhi. Greater coverage of CVD risk factor screening (especially blood pressure) was seen among females, as compared to males. No clear pattern of inequality was seen by poverty status; some SAs did not have adequate BPL samples. Overall, blood pressure and blood sugar screening coverage by frontline health workers fell short of targeted coverage levels at the aggregate level, but in all sites, at least one area was crossing this threshold level. Conclusion: CVD screening coverage levels at this early stage are low. More emphasis may be needed on reaching males. Sex and poverty related inequalities must be addressed by more closely studying the local context and models of service delivery where the threshold of screening is being met. LQAS is a pragmatic method for measuring program inequalities, in resource-constrained settings, although possibly not for spatially segregated population sub-groups.



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