The influence of gender on the epidemiology of and outcome from severe sepsis

Crit Care. 2013 Mar 18;17(2):R50. doi: 10.1186/cc12570.


Introduction: The impact of gender on outcome in critically ill patients is unclear. We investigated the influence of gender on the epidemiology of severe sepsis and associated morbidity and mortality in a large cohort of ICU patients in the region of Piedmont in Italy.

Methods: This was a post-hoc analysis of data from a prospective, multicenter, observational study in which all patients admitted to one of 24 participating medical and/or surgical ICUs between 3 April 2006 and 29 September 2006 were included.

Results: Of the 3,902 patients included in the study, 63.5% were male. Female patients were significantly older than male patients (66±16 years vs. 63±16 years, P<0.001). Female patients were less likely to have severe sepsis and septic shock on admission to the ICU and to develop these syndromes during the ICU stay. ICU mortality was similar in men and women in the whole cohort (20.1% vs. 19.8%, P=0.834), but in patients with severe sepsis was significantly greater in women than in men (63.5% vs. 46.4%, P=0.007). In multivariate logistic regression analysis with ICU outcome as the dependent variable, female gender was independently associated with a higher risk of ICU death in patients with severe sepsis (odds ratio=2.33, 95% confidence interval=1.23 to 4.39, P=0.009) but not in the whole cohort (odds ratio=1.07, 95% confidence interval=0.87 to 1.34).

Conclusion: In this large regional Italian cohort of ICU patients, there were more male than female admissions. The prevalence of severe sepsis was lower in women than in men, but female gender was independently associated with a higher risk of death in the ICU for patients with severe sepsis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sepsis / diagnosis*
  • Sepsis / epidemiology*
  • Sepsis / therapy
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Treatment Outcome