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Burns, Jacob; Kurz, Christoph; Laxy, Michael (2021): Effectiveness of the German disease management programs: quasi-experimental analyses assessing the population-level health impact. In: BMC Public Health, Vol. 21, 2092
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BACKGROUND In 2002-2003 disease management programs (DMPs) for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease were introduced in Germany to improve the management of these conditions. Today around 6 million Germans aged 56 and older are enrolled in one of the DMPs; however, their effect on health remains unclear. METHODS We estimated the impact of German DMPs on circulatory and all-cause mortality using a synthetic control study. Specifically, using routinely available data, we compared pre and post-intervention trends in mortality of individuals aged 56 and older for 1998-2014 in Germany to trends in other European countries. RESULTS Average circulatory and all-cause mortality in Germany and the synthetic control was 1.63 and 3.24 deaths per 100 persons. Independent of model choice, circulatory and all-cause mortality decreased non-significantly less in Germany than in the synthetic control; for the model with a 3 year time lag, for example, by 0.12 (95%-CI: - 0.20; 0.44) and 0.22 (95%-CI: - 0.40; 0.66) deaths per 100 persons, respectively. Further main analyses, as well as sensitivity and subgroup analyses supported these results. CONCLUSIONS We observed no effect on circulatory or all-cause mortality at the population-level. However, confidence intervals were wide, meaning we could not reject the possibility of a positive effect. Given the substantial costs for administration and operation of the programs, further comparative effectiveness research is needed to clarify the value of German DMPs for type 2 diabetes and CHD.