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Journal supplement explores lessons to be learned in health care quality and disparities from AHRQ's first national reports

The first congressionally mandated National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) and National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR), published in December 2003 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, present national data on 140 quality of care and 100 access-to-care measures. Eleven articles featured in a March 2005 supplement to the journal, Medical Care, highlight methodological issues and research findings that arose in the process of creating the NHQR and NHDR but were not thoroughly discussed in the reports. Guest editors for the supplement are from AHRQ's Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety: Ernest Moy, M.D, M.P.H., director of the NHDR project and Ed Kelley, Ph.D., director of the NHQR project.

The supplement begins with an overview of key concepts, definitions, statistical methods, and findings from the reports. Several papers address methodological challenges faced during development of the reports. For instance, data gaps and Federal data restrictions limited assessments of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in care. Also, data for evaluating the quality of nursing home and home health care were limited and not as useful as they could have been.

Other papers specifically discuss quality of care for individuals with heart disease, patient safety from measurement and disparities perspectives, and disparities in care among children, reproductive age women, and men. The final article explores how the reports can be used in the future to improve quality and eliminate disparities.

See "Health care quality and disparities: Lessons from the first national reports," March 2005 Medical Care 43(3)Suppl. Reprints of the journal supplement (AHRQ Publication No. 0M05-0003) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

Editor's Note: For more information about these reports, including the 2004 editions of both reports, go to www.qualitytools.ahrq.gov and look under "Featured Resources."

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