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The Inverse Care Law (ICL) programme in Wales was setup to tackle health inequalities. Eligible populations from deprived communities, at higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) were invited to a health-check and offered appropriate lifestyle and clinical interventions.
Objectives and Approach
Evaluation of this programme is vital to ensure that targeted interventions have been received by those most in need, including referrals to lifestyle services and support. The use of longitudinal population-scale routine-data required the development of an approach which was both efficient and cost effective. To achieve this, the Welsh Longitudinal General Practice (WLGP) data held in SAIL Databank was utilised. A programme-specific methodology was agreed by the programme-board and developed so that data collected from GP records prior, during and post health-check accurately identified the eligible population and allowed the effective assessment of lifestyle and clinical risk factors for CVD; poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking and high alcohol intake, so appropriate interventions could be offered.
We evaluated the programme from 2015 to 2019 in 70 GP’s across the participating Health-Boards, and identified 175,671 individuals eligible by the programme criteria. Substantial preliminary work has been carried out to ensure the specification of outcome measures are both clinically and epidemiologically accurate and relevant. The final report scheduled for release in August-2020, which will evaluate the impact of the programme.
Conclusion / Implications
This ambitious evaluation of a large-scale programme set in the community involving disparate systems and a range of stakeholders, has been both complex and challenging, requiring substantial effort to design and implement. We hope the outcomes and lessons learned from our experience will improve the design, implementation and evaluation of the programme and lead to improvements in services and the quality of life for people in Wales, and provide an exemplar for health care providers worldwide wishing to conduct similar programmes in the future.
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