Scale-up of a chronic care model-based programme for type 2 diabetes in Belgium: a mixed-methods study

K Danhieux, V Buffel, Roy Remmen, Edwin Wouters, J van Olmen

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is an increasingly dominant disease. Interventions are more effective when carried out by a prepared and proactive team within an organised system — the integrated care (IC) model. The Chronic Care Model (CCM) provides guidance for its implementation, but scale-up of IC is challenging, and this hampers outcomes for T2D care. In this paper, we used the CCM to investigate the current implementation of IC in primary care in Flanders (Belgium) and its variability in different practice types.

Belgium contains three different primary-care practice types: monodisciplinary fee-for-service practices, multidisciplinary fee-for-service practices and multidisciplinary capitation-based practices. Disproportional sampling was used to select a maximum of 10 practices for each type in three Flemish regions, leading to a total of 66 practices. The study employed a mixed methods design whereby the Assessment of Chronic Illness Care (ACIC) was complemented with interviews with general practitioners, nurses and dieticians linked to the 66 practices.

The ACIC scores of the fee-for-service practices — containing 97% of Belgian patients — only corresponded to basic support for chronic illness care for T2D. Multidisciplinary and capitation-based practices scored considerably higher than traditional monodisciplinary fee-for-service practices. The region had no significant impact on the ACIC scores. Having a nurse, being a capitation practice and having a secretary had a significant effect in the regression analysis, which explained 75% of the variance in ACIC scores. Better-performing practices were successful due to clear role-defining, task delegation to the nurse, coordination, structured use of the electronic medical record, planning of consultations and integration of self-management support, and behaviour-change intervention (internally or using community initiatives). The longer nurses work in primary care practices, the higher the chance that they perform more advanced tasks.

Besides the presence of a nurse or secretary, also working multidisciplinary under one roof and a capitation-based financing system are important features of a system wherein IC for T2D can be scaled-up successfully. Belgian policymakers should rethink the role of paramedics in primary care and make the financing system more integrated. As the scale-up of the IC varied highly in different contexts, uniform roll-out across a health system containing multiple types of practices may not be successful.
Original languageEnglish
Article number141
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Chronic care
  • Chronic care model
  • Integrated care
  • Primary care
  • Primary care nurse
  • Scale-up
  • Type 2 diabetes


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