Addressing pressures on health services in Brazil through community-based care for poor older people: a qualitative study

Peter Lloyd-Sherlock*, Poliana Fialho de Carvalho, Karla Giacomin, Lucas Sempé

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Background
In low and middle-income countries, there is growing interest in managing pressures on health services through community interventions for older people. Evidence on the effects of such interventions is scarce. We draw on qualitative data to examine these effects for a specific scheme, Programa Maior Cuidado (PMC) in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.

Methods
Building on quantitative findings reported elsewhere, we use qualitative data to develop and test theories of change. These include data from 50 meetings with policymakers, managers and staff in 30 health centres and social assistance posts. Data collection was embedded in key informant interaction and knowledge coproduction. Data include participant and non-participant observation, focus groups and semi-structured interviews with key informants, as well as older people and carers from seven families.

Findings
The data reveal three theories of change. Theory 1 is PMC maintains older people’s health which reduces their need for inpatient or outpatient care. We find strong evidence to support this, through effects on use of medication, chronic disease management and risk prevention. Theory 2 is PMC promotes timely intervention by anticipating health problems, thus reducing demand for emergency and acute care. We find some evidence for this, but it was limited by limited availability of timely treatment or referral beyond PMC. Theory 3 is PMC facilitates hospital discharge. We find limited evidence for this, reflecting a lack of formal liaison between PMC and hospitals.

Interpretation
Schemes like PMC have potential to reduce pressures on health service utilisation by older people, if they are well articulated with wider health services.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100619
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalThe Lancet Regional Health - Americas
Volume27
Early online date28 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes

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