Economic and financial crisis based on Troika’s intervention and potentially avoidable hospitalizations: an ecological study in Portugal

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Background: Hospitalisations for Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions (ACSC) cause harm to users and to health systems, as these events are potentially avoidable. In 2009, Portugal was hit by an economic and financial crisis and in 2011 it resorted to foreign assistance (“Memorandum of Understanding” (2011–2014)). The aim of this study was to analyse the association between the Troika intervention and hospitalisations for ACSC. Methods: We analysed inpatient data of all public NHS hospitals of mainland Portugal from 2007 to 2016, and identified hospitalisations for ACSC (pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hearth failure, hypertensive heart disease, urinary tract infections, diabetes), according to the AHRQ methodology. Rates of hospitalisations for ACSC, the rate of enrollment in the employment center and average monthly earnings were compared among the pre-crisis, crisis and post-crisis periods to see if there were differences. A Spearman’s correlation between socioeconomic variables and hospitalisations was performed. Results: Among 8,160,762 admissions, 892,759 (10.94%) were classified as ACSC hospitalizations, for which 40% corresponded to pneumonia. The rates of total hospitalisations and hospitalisations for ACSC increased between 2007 and 2016, with the central and northern regions of the country presenting the highest rates. No correlations between socioeconomic variables and hospitalisation rates were found. Conclusions: During the period of economic and financial crisis based on Troika’s intervention, there was an increase in potentially preventable hospitalisations in Portugal, with disparities between the municipalities. The high use of resources from ACSC hospitalisations and the consequences of the measures taken during the crisis are factors that health management must take into account.

Original languageEnglish
Article number506
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Ambulatory care sensitive conditions
  • Economic and financial crisis
  • Potentially preventable admissions
  • Troika’s intervention


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