Women with heart disease and diabetes are less likely to receive several types of routine outpatient medical care than men who have similar health problems, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.
While previous research has shown that women less frequently receive expensive medical care such as angioplasty for heart disease, few studies have evaluated gender disparities in managed care settings.
All the patients in the RAND Health study had either private insurance or were enrolled in Medicare managed care plans, had been diagnosed with heart disease and/or diabetes, and had visited health providers to receive care. The study is published in the May/June edition of the journal Womens Health Issues.
"We found that the routine medical care received by women for their heart disease and diabetes was not as good as the care received by men," said Chloe Bird, the studys lead author and a sociologist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "These are low-cost treatments that can forestall serious health problems in the future -- and women with diabetes and heart disease are not receiving them as often as men with similar problems."
Researchers studied more than 50,000 men and women enrolled in both commercial and Medicare managed care plans in 1999. The study examined 11 different screening tests, treatments or measurements of health status shown to be important to all people diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes.
Among people enrolled in commercial health plans, women were significantly less likely than men to receive the care evaluated in six of the 11 measures, while women enrolled in the Medicare plans were less likely to receive the care evaluated in four of the 11 measures.
The largest disparity found by researchers was that women were less likely to lower their cholesterol to recommended levels after suffering a heart attack or other acute cardiac event, or if they had diabetes.'"/>