Mapping Gender Gaps in Health Care
Jun 11, 2014
A Pilot Assessment of LDL Cholesterol Testing Rates in a California Health Plan
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Despite improvements over recent decades in care for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes, which is a major CVD risk factor, evidence suggests that the care women receive — and their health outcomes — continue to lag behind those of men, even for routine care, such as monitoring and control of cholesterol. Awareness of and action to address gender gaps in women's CVD care are limited, in part, because quality of care is not routinely measured and reported by gender. This pilot project describes and maps gender differences in CVD and diabetes care using data from a large health plan. The study aims to identify gender gaps in care in California and, where they are found, to increase awareness of potential gender disparities and begin to inform approaches to address gaps in care. The study assesses gender differences in one key aspect of routine CVD care and related prevention among patients with diabetes: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol screening. The results from this study are intended to provide the basis for further work to learn and document what it will take to rapidly spread mapping approaches that prove to be helpful in understanding and addressing disparities in health and health care, particularly with regard to improving women's health outcomes. Key findings include that men had higher rates of LDL screening than did women in both the CVD and diabetes populations. These gaps varied by age and insurance type. In addition, mapping gender gaps revealed larger gaps at local levels than were apparent at the state or regional level.
Conclusion and Implications
The research described in this report was sponsored by the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center at Cedars Sinai Heart Institute and was produced within RAND Health, a division of the RAND Corporation.
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