Healthcare quality assessments: No guarantees of same outcomes for different socio-economic stroke patients

Jayeun Kim, Ki Hwa Yang, Ah Rum Choi, Mi Yeon Kang, Hyun Joo Kim, Hyejin Lee, Jin Yong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Healthcare quality assessment is being conducted in many countries. Although improving health equity is one of the major objectives of medical quality assessment, it is not clear whether different socio-economic statuses show the same health outcomes even in the same medical quality hospitals. No study has directly compared the health outcomes of different socio-economic statuses in the same hospitals nationwide. Objective: To determine whether the mortality rate of acute stroke patients differs according to socioeconomic status. Methods: This study was a retrospective, observational study of patients who were subject to acute stroke quality assessment in 2013. A total of 10 399 stroke cases were included in the study. When evaluating the mortality rate, the researchers analysed 10 228 cases, after excluding 171 cases that were measured twice for the same person. The levels of socio-economic status were divided according to the use of medical benefits, either National Health Insurance (NHI) for general population or Medical Aid (MA) for the vulnerable. The primary outcomes measured according to socio-economic status were in-hospital mortality rate and 1-year follow-up mortality rate of stroke patients. The secondary outcome was the composite performance score. Results: MA recipients had a higher in-hospital mortality rate (12.5 vs. 8.3%, P < 0.001) and 1-year follow-up mortality rate (14.9 vs. 10.8%, P < 0.001) than NHI subscribers. MA recipients had slightly lower scores than NHI subscribers (83.2 vs. 84.4, P = 0.02). In hospitals of the same grade, MA recipients had lower performance scores than NHI subscribers, although the difference was not statistically significant. Conclusions: There is a difference in mortality and healthcare performance according to socio-economic status in stroke patients in Korea. Efforts to improve equity are needed, including the development and monitoring of equality indicators and developing policies for healthcare equity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermzab081
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2021


  • disparity
  • healthcare quality assessment
  • inequity
  • performance
  • socio-economic status
  • stroke mortality


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