Factors associated with hospitalizations for primary care-sensitive conditions in Brazil: an ecological study

Santos et al.


To investigate whether structural aspects of primary care units (PCUs) and the work processes of primary care teams are associated with the rate of hospitalizations for primary care-sensitive conditions (HPCSC) in children younger than 5 years of age in Brazil.


For this longitudinal ecological study, secondary data were obtained from the Brazilian Hospital Information System and from three cycles of the National Program for Access and Quality Improvement in Primary Care (PMAQ-AB) (2012, 2014, 2017/2018). The analysis included 42 916 PCUs. A multilevel random intercept model with fixed slope was used. In the first level, the outcome (HPCSC rates) and explanatory variables (structure and process indicators) aggregated by PCU were analyzed. Social determinants (represented by a stratification criterion combining municipality population and health care management indicators) were entered in the second level. The t test with Bonferroni correction was used to compare indicator means between regions, and multilevel linear regression was used to estimate the correlation coefficients.


The HPCSC rate in children younger than 5 years was 62.78/100 thousand population per estimated PCU coverage area. A direct association with the outcome was observed for: participation in one or more PMAQ-AB cycles; team planning; special hours; dedicated pediatric care area; and availability of vaccines. Equipment, materials, supplies, and being a small or medium-size municipality were inversely associated with HPCSC.


HPCSC rates in children below 5 years of age may potentially be reduced through improvements in PCU structure and process indicators and in municipal social determinants.

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