Gender differences in the management of risk factors for cardiovascular disease: the importance of insurance status

Soc Sci Med. 2006 Oct;63(7):1745-56. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.04.030. Epub 2006 Jun 9.


Despite cardiovascular disease (CVD) being the leading killer of both sexes in the US, there are indications that men and women have different experiences in the health system with prevention and treatment practices. Beyond largely descriptive findings, little research exists that addresses how men and women may differ in their response to certain key influences on CVD health services utilization. This paper examines gender differentials in the effect of insurance coverage on CVD preventive health services in the US. An economics framework is used to model individual demand for preventive services as a function of insurance status, while controlling for a comprehensive set of explanatory variables. The services analyzed include cholesterol and blood pressure screening, pharmaceutical use for hypertension and lipid disorders, and CVD-related physician visits. Both general and high-risk samples are evaluated. The results show that while a lack of insurance is associated with lower rates of utilization in both men and women, there are no observed gender differences in insurance-effects for recommended intervals of risk factor screening in the general population. However, for individuals with previously diagnosed heart disease or stroke, a lack of coverage is more strongly associated with lower rates of screening, pharmaceutical management, and physician contact in women than men. Potential reasons for these findings are discussed and policy implications are noted.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage*
  • Insurance, Health*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Economic
  • Preventive Health Services / economics
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • United States