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Shifting the demand for emergency care in Cuba's health system


  • De Vos, Pol
  • Murlá, Pedro
  • Rodriguez, Armando
  • Bonet, Mariano
  • Màs, Pedro
  • Van der Stuyft, Patrick


Cuba has developed a programme of quality improvement of its health services, which includes an extramural emergency care system in which polyclinics and general practitioner networks play an important role. Using routine health information from the decentralised first line emergency units (FLES) and from the hospital emergency service (HES) for the period 1995-2000, we evaluated the effects of the emergency care subsystem reform on the utilisation rates of first line and hospital services in Baracoa and Cerro, a rural and a metropolitan municipality, respectively. In the self-contained health system of Baracoa, the reform of the emergency subsystem resulted in a first phase of increased utilisation of the FLES, followed by a second phase of gradual decrease, during which there was an increased utilisation of general practitioners. In contrast, the overall results of the reform in Cerro were unclear. The proximity to a hospital seems to be the most important element in the patient's decision on which entry point to the Cerro health system to use. A potential adverse effect of the reform is an increased emergency services utilisation in situations where GP care remains below patients' expectations. Given the current world-wide trends in health-care reform, the organisational alternatives developed in the Cuban health system might remain specific to the local contextual setting.

Suggested Citation

  • De Vos, Pol & Murlá, Pedro & Rodriguez, Armando & Bonet, Mariano & Màs, Pedro & Van der Stuyft, Patrick, 2005. "Shifting the demand for emergency care in Cuba's health system," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 609-616, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:60:y:2005:i:3:p:609-616

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jones, Susan L. & Jones, Paul K. & Katz, Janet, 1991. "Compliance in acute and chronic patients receiving a health belief model intervention in the emergency department," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1183-1189, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. De Vos, Pol & Vanlerberghe, Veerle & Rodriguez, Armando & Garcia, Rene & Bonet, Mariano & Van der Stuyft, Patrick, 2008. "Uses of first line emergency services in Cuba," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 94-104, January.
    2. De Vos, Pol & Orduñez-García, Pedro & Santos-Peña, Moisés & Van der Stuyft, Patrick, 2010. "Public hospital management in times of crisis: Lessons learned from Cienfuegos, Cuba (1996-2008)," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 64-71, June.


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