Rural Disparities in the Quality of Clinical Care Are Notable and Larger for Males
Published in: The Journal of Rural Health, Volume 39, Issue3 (Summer 2023), Pages 636-642. DOI: 10.1111/jrh.12710
Posted on rand.org Jun 22, 2023
To investigate whether rural-urban differences in quality of care for Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees vary between females and males.
Data for this study came from the 2019 Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set. Linear regression was used to investigate urban-rural differences in individual MA enrollee scores on 34 clinical care measures grouped into 7 categories, and how those differences varied by sex (through evaluation of statistical interactions).
Across all 7 categories of measures, scores for rural residents were worse than scores for urban residents. For 4 categories-care for patients with (suspected) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, avoiding prescription misuse, behavioral health, and diabetes care-the average difference across measures in the category was greater than 3 percentage points. Across all 34 measures, there were 15 statistically significant rural-by-sex interactions that exceeded 1 percentage point. In 11 of those cases, the deficit associated with living in a rural area was greater for males than for females. In 3 cases, the deficit associated with living in a rural area was larger for females than for males. In 1 case involving Follow-up After Hospitalization for Mental Illness, rural residents had an advantage, and it was larger for males than for females.
Interventions may help address patient- (eg, health literacy and patient activation), provider- (eg, workforce recruitment and retention), and structural-level issues contributing to these disparities, especially for rural males.