Objective: This study was undertaken to describe the site of ambulatory care visits for gynecologic conditions in the United States and to identify patient factors associated with the site of care for these conditions.
Study design: We conducted a national cross-sectional study using data from the 1995-1996 National Ambulatory Medical Care and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys. Visits to private physician offices, hospital outpatient departments, and emergency departments were selected if the principal diagnoses were consistent with 1 of 9 gynecologic categories. Multiple logistic regression was used for all diagnoses to identify factors associated with visits to emergency departments or hospital-based outpatient departments compared with factors associated with visits to private physician offices. Separate regression models were developed for individual diagnoses to test the hypothesis that the factors associated with the site of care would vary across different gynecologic conditions.
Results: There were 23,194,000 visits for gynecologic conditions during the 2-year study period. Genital dysplasia, ovarian disorders, and uterine disorders were associated with greater use of hospital outpatient departments and emergency departments compared with physician offices. There was a 30% to 50% reduction in emergency room use for visits by women aged 45 years and older compared with visits by women aged 18 to 29 years. Emergency department use for several gynecologic conditions was 5 to 8 times greater for visits by women with household income <$29,000 than for visits by women with household income > or =$40,000.
Conclusion: Specific gynecologic diagnoses and patient factors are associated with greater use of emergency departments or hospital outpatient departments compared with physician offices. The association of these factors with the site of care varies across different gynecologic conditions.