Age and gender differences in health service utilization

J Public Health (Oxf). 2005 Mar;27(1):74-9. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdh208. Epub 2005 Jan 6.


Background: This study of age and gender profiles of health care populations fills a gap in the research literature by providing a population study of both single health agency and inter-agency 'Shared Care' populations.

Methods: It combines anonymous data to link individual cases across Community Health (N = 82 751), Mental Health (N = 19 029) and Social Services (N = 19 461) populations in one county Health Authority (N = 646 239) over 3 years. It compares age and gender characteristics of single care populations and overlapping inter-agency 'Shared Care'populations.

Results: Approximately two-thirds of all care populations were female compared to half (513.1) in the general Health Authority population. These differences were accentuated for almost all inter-agency 'Shared Care' populations, where, whilst a younger care profile emerged for mental health and social services dual agency clients, for other shared populations a distinct care profile emerged of greater proportions of older, female and older female patients. Gender differences were also apparent for different care groups within a total Community Health care population. Whilst females made much more use of services overall, in Community Health, older males were more likely to receive rehabilitative support services.

Conclusion: Age and gender profiles of health care agency and inter-agency populations clarify service use patterns and identify high proportions of women in health and social care populations, particularly in older care populations. This type of care population analysis could inform single agency and inter-agency shared care planning and commissioning.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Community Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Record Linkage
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Work / statistics & numerical data*
  • State Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology