Gender Comparison of Receipt of Government-Funded Health Services and Medication Prescriptions for the Management of Patients With Cardiovascular Disease in Primary Care

Heart Lung Circ. 2021 Oct;30(10):1516-1524. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2021.04.005. Epub 2021 Apr 29.


Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and risk factors remains a major burden in terms of disease, disability, and death in the Australian population and mental health is considered as an important risk factor affecting cardiovascular disease. A multidisciplinary collaborative approach in primary care is required to ensure an optimal outcome for managing cardiovascular patients with mental health issues. Medicare introduced numerous primary care health services and medications that are subsidised by the Australian government in order to provide a more structured approach to reduce and manage CVD. However, the utilisation of these services nor gender comparison for CVD management in primary care has been explored. Therefore, the aim is to compare the provision of subsidised chronic disease management plans (CDMPs), mental health care and prescription of guideline-indicated medications to men and women with CVD in primary care practices for secondary prevention.

Methods: De-identified data for all active patients with CVD were extracted from 50 Australian primary care practices. Outcomes included the frequency of receipt of CDMPs, mental health care and prescription of evidence-based medications. Analyses adjusted for demography and clinical characteristics, stratified by gender, were performed using logistic regression and accounted for clustering effects by practices.

Results: Data for 14,601 patients with CVD (39.4% women) were collected. The odds of receiving the CDMPs was significantly greater amongst women than men (preparation of general practice management plan [GPMP]: (46% vs 43%; adjusted OR [95% CI]: 1.22 [1.12, 1.34]). Women were more likely to have diagnosed with mental health issues (32% vs 20%, p<0.0001), however, the adjusted odds of men and women receiving any government-subsidised mental health care were similar. Women were less often prescribed blood pressure, lipid-lowering and antiplatelet medications. After adjustment, only an antiplatelet medication or agent was less likely to be prescribed to women than men (44% vs 51%; adjusted OR [95% CI]: 0.84 [0.76, 0.94]).

Conclusion: Women were more likely to receive CDMPs but less likely to receive antiplatelet medications than men, no gender difference was observed in the receipt of mental health care. However, the receipt of the CDMPs and the mental health treatment consultations were suboptimal and better use of these existing services could improve ongoing CVD management.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Chronic disease; Data extraction; Gender; Health services; Heart disease; Prevention; Primary care; Secondary prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Female
  • Government
  • Humans
  • Male
  • National Health Programs
  • Primary Health Care