Men Less Likely To Seek Medical Help, More Likely To Need It
April 20, 2012

Men Less Likely To Seek Medical Help, More Likely To Need It

New research in the online journal BMJ Open finds women may be stronger than men where recovery is concerned. According to the research, men are significantly more likely to require urgent hospital care and readmission than women after only a month of being discharged.

Patients who have to return to the hospital within 30 days of initial discharge may end up having to pay even higher medical bills, often considered a marker of poor health care. According to a statement, the cost for hospital readmissions among medicare recipients was around $17.4 billion in 2004.

The researcher´s data came in part from the ReEngineered Discharge (RED) program, an initiative designed to discover ways to reduce the requirement for further urgent hospital and improve the quality of care as well as cut medical costs.

Researchers studied 367 men and 370 women as a part of project RED and found men had higher rates of hospital readmission within 30 days of initial discharge, with 47 events occurring out of 100 men per month. Women, on the other hand, had only 29 events out of 100 women. Men were also less likely to follow up with their doctors after discharge.

The researchers found that the difference can be attributed to the number of visits to the emergency room taken by men. When called 30 days after their discharge, more men reported misunderstanding their follow-up appointments when they left. Women, on the other hand were reported as understanding their appointments and making more of an attempt attend. Additionally, women were found to be more likely to visit their primary care physician within the 30 days after discharge than men.

Interestingly, the study also found no gender difference in terms of hospital readmission within 6 months of the initial hospitalization. In fact, being hospitalized more than triples the chances of requiring further care within 6 months of discharge.

Outside of gender, there were other factors to be considered in a man´s return to the hospital. For instance, men were 72% more likely to need further hospital care within 30 days of discharge if they were unmarried or retired. They were also 64% more likely to require the same care if they had not seen their primary care physician within the same time frame.

“Identifying and addressing risk factors associated with early post discharge hospital utilization is useful so that resources can be efficiently tailored to each individual patient´s risk profile,” explained senior author Brian Jack, MD, professor of family medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and principal investigator of Boston Medical Center´s Project RED.

While some factors cannot be remedied, the focus of initiatives such as project red and this subsequent study is to reduce the need for further hospitalization after discharge.

Says Dr. Jack, “Some risk factors, like gender, however, may seem inherently immutable. Yet, as we demonstrated in this study, male gender is associated with other parameters that could potentially be effectively targeted.”