Implementation of a free cataract surgery program in rural China: A community-based randomized interventional study

Xiu Juan Zhang, Yuan Bo Liang, Ying Peng Liu, Vishal Jhanji, David C. Musch, Yi Peng, Chong Ren Zheng, Hui Xi Zhang, Ping Chen, Xin Tang, Dennis S.C. Lam

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To identify effective methods to increase the number of cataract surgeries in a rural setting in Pucheng County of Shaanxi Province, northwestern China. Design: Community-based randomized interventional study. Participants: Four hundred thirty-two patients 50 years of age or older with operable cataract who had not undergone surgery 3 months after participation in a cataract outreach screening program. Methods: Three hundred fifty-five (82.2%) patients eligible for surgery, but not scheduling it on their own, were contacted and were assigned randomly into 4 groups. Participants in group 1 (n = 86) were given informative reminders by telephone or in person by a trained facilitator about undergoing low-cost cataract surgery. Group 2 (n = 86) was offered free cataract surgery. Group 3 (n = 90) was offered free surgery and reimbursement of transportation expenses. Group 4 (n = 93) was provided with free rides from home to hospital in addition to the reminder and free surgery. Main Outcome Measures: Number of participants undergoing cataract surgery after interventions. Results: In total, 94 patients (26.5%) underwent cataract surgery after interventions. In group 1, 13 patients (14.4%) underwent surgery, which was significantly lower than the number in group 2 (n = 25 [27.8%]; P = 0.027), group 3 (n = 28 [31.1%]; P = 0.012), and group 4 (n = 26 [28%]; P = 0.038). There were no significant differences between groups 2 and 3 (P = 0.768) or between groups 2 and 4 (P = 0.869). Conclusions: Provision of free cataract surgery was twice as effective as giving patients an informative reminder when it came to increasing the uptake of cataract surgery. However, offering reimbursement of transportation expenses or provision of free rides had minimal added impact on the response rate of participants to undergo cataract surgery. Financial Disclosure(s): The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-265
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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