Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care

The Concept and Usefulness of Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions as Indicators of Quality and Access to Primary Health Care

Zahid Ansari

Australian Journal of Primary Health 13(3) 91 - 110
Published: 2007


The purpose of this review is to introduce health services researchers, especially in the area of primary health care, to the meaning and concept of ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSCs). More specifically, this review explores the validity of ACSC admissions as proxy indicators of access to primary health care, provides a description of the factors that cause variations in ACSC admission rates, and presents a discussion of the potential usefulness and policy implications of these indicators for primary health care. Critical Interpretive Synthesis (CIS) methodology was used to review the literature on ACSC admissions indicators. Medline and Australasian Medical Index were searched for English language articles published between 1970 and August 2005. The results were supplemented by an internet search of the World Wide Web, further augmented by manual scans of material from deeper levels within the sites. Main finding from the review indicates that ACSC admissions are valid proxy indicators of access to primary health care. Socioeconomic factors are most important in explaining variations in ACSC admissions. Several uses and policy implications of ACSC admission indicators are discussed, including their potential for identifying gaps in the primary health care system and providing opportunities for targeted public health and health services interventions.

© La Trobe University 2007

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