Background: Despite a higher prevalence of chronic kidney disease among women, more men than women start renal replacement therapy (RRT). We hypothesized that gender differences in health care access exist and therefore aimed at determining whether characteristics and outcomes of haemodialysis patients over time differ by sex.
Methods: We studied all 28 323 adults who began haemodialysis during 1965-2014 in the Austrian Dialysis Registry, analysing trends in patient characteristics by sex and decade with mortality (via Cox regression), which was compared with the mortality of the Austrian general population.
Results: More men than women started haemodialysis (60.1% men versus 39.9% women overall), with minor differences among decades and age groups. The male:female mortality rate ratio in the general population ranged from 1.2 to 2.4 for age groups >18 years and in haemodialysis patients ranged from 0.80 to 1.3 (closer to 1 than in the general population, but consistently >1 in Decades 3-5). In recent decades, diabetes and hypertension replaced glomerulonephritis as the primary cause of end-stage renal disease in both men and women. Interaction analyses showed the mortality risk associated with haemodialysis access (only recorded in Decade 5) was significantly lower for men than for women.
Conclusions: The male:female mortality rate ratio and the proportion of women starting haemodialysis were remarkably stable, which does not support the hypothesis of gender differences in health care/haemodialysis access or could imply that such differences might have persisted over decades. Future research should expand to other countries and other forms of RRT.
Keywords: age; epidemiology; haemodialysis; retrospective; survival analysis.
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of ERA-EDTA. All rights reserved.