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Health experiences differ between men and women. The health services have focused their attention on gynaecological health problems in women, however women with non-gynaecological health problems could be unintentionally neglected. Given the increased prevalence of diabetes, the healthcare needs and experiences of women with diabetes are increasing.
To determine the extent of sex inequalities in access to care for diabetes in primary care.
Cross-sectional population-based questionnaire study.
Twenty-three general practices spread through 23 different primary care trusts in the former Trent Region, UK.
The study consisted of a random sample of 1673 patients with diabetes. Outcomes measured were odds ratios adjusted for age for measures of physical access to the GP's surgery; ease of obtaining appointments; access to primary care professionals; levels of routine diabetes care received; barriers to physical activity, problems eating and psychological distress as measured by the 18 score Diabetes Health Profile.
Women were less likely than men to report that they had talked to their GP or practice nurse about their diabetes in the previous 12 months and were less likely to report that they were able to book routine appointments at convenient times. Almost 40% of all patients with diabetes reported difficulty in visiting the GP's surgery for their diabetes care, and women were more likely to report difficulties in visiting the surgery than men. Women were more likely than men to be afraid to go out alone (7.9% versus 3.6%) and more likely to be housebound (6.8% versus 2.4%). Women had significantly higher scores for eating problems and barriers to physical activity than men.
Women report more problems with access to diabetes care than men. If the ambitions of the National Service Framework are to be met, then positive action needs to be taken to improve access to care for women with diabetes.