Introduction — Most individual preventive therapies potentially narrow or widen health disparities depending on the difference in community effectiveness across socioeconomic position (SEP). The equity tipping point (defined as the point at which health disparities become larger) can be calculated by varying components of community effectiveness such as baseline risk of disease, intervention coverage and/or intervention efficacy across SEP.
Methods — The researchers used a simple modelling approach to estimate the community effectiveness of diabetes prevention across SEP in Canada under different scenarios of intervention coverage.
Results — Five-year baseline diabetes risk differed between the lowest and highest income groups by 1.76%. Assuming complete coverage across all income groups, the difference was reduced to 0.90% (144 000 cases prevented) with lifestyle interventions and 1.24% (88 100 cases prevented) with pharmacotherapy. The equity tipping point was estimated to be a coverage difference of 30% for preventive interventions (100% and 70% coverage among the highest and lowest income earners, respectively).
Conclusion — Disparities in diabetes risk could be measurably reduced if existing interventions were equally adopted across SEP. However, disparities in coverage could lead to increased inequity in risk. Simple modelling approaches can be used to examine the community effectiveness of individual preventive interventions and their potential to reduce (or increase) disparities. The equity tipping point can be used as a critical threshold for disparities analyses.
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